Indonesia is weighing up whether to reintroduce visa-free travel for top international tourists.
Visa-free travel was formally scrapped in 2023, though the legislation had been on pause since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Currently, tourists from 97 countries are eligible for an Indonesian visa on arrival.
This can be applied on arrival at any of the county’s international airports, including Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport and specific seaports. The visa costs IDR 500,000 and is valid for 30 days.
On this visa, tourists can take part in tourism activities, attend business meetings, and visit friends and family.
While the IDR 500,000 is in alignment with the price of other paid-for visa-on-arrival schemes around the world, the introduction of a paid-for visa for Bali’s top tourists has not gone down well with many Bali lovers.
Before the pandemic tourists from Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and many countries in Europe did not need to pay for a visa on arrival.
These tourists, along with tourists from ASEAN nations were elligible for a free 30-day stay.
However, for tourists wishing to stay in Indonesia for more than 30 days, up to 60 days it was possible to pay for the visa on arrival so that the stay could be extended on time for an additional 30 days.
In one of his last public speeches of 2023 Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, announced that the department was looking into the viability of reintroducing legislation that means the country’s top tourists would no longer have to pay for a visa on arrival for tourism purposes.
The return of visa-free travel to Bali would be a game changer for Bali lovers, especially budget-conscious holidaymakers.
Minster Uno says that reintroducing visa-free travel for Bali to tourists may, counterintuitively, mean that tourists spend more while on vacation.
According to Minister Uno, if Indonesia grants visa-free status to the country’s top 20 visitor nations, it will generate between USD 20-25 billion (approx IDR 388 trillion) in foreign exchange.
In 2024, leaders in Bali want to attract more high-quality, high-spending, and longer-staying tourists to the island.
The 20 countries the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economies is proposing the return of visa-free travel for are Australia, China (PRC), India, South Korea, the U.S.A., U.K., France, Germany, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and two more countries in the Middle East as yet to be specified.
This is in addition to the nine ASEAN member nations that are already eligible for visa-free visits to Indonesia: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It looks like things are all falling into place. Just as the conversation around the possible return of visa-free travel kicks off, more flights are being added to Bali Airport’s daily and weekly schedules.
Minister Uno has also just confirmed that more flight services will be connecting tourists from Europe, the Middle East, and China to Bali.
Turkish Airlines has submitted a request to increase the Istanbul-Bali-Istanbul route to three times weekly.
Istanbul Airport is one of Europe’s biggest transit hubs, especially for tourists from Western Europe traveling to Asia.
On top of this Bali Airport will see the launch of the Shanghai-Bali-Shanghai route with Juneyao Airlines on the 20th January 2024.
Finally, there are also suggestions to already increase the frequency of the Etihad Airlines Abu Dhabi-Bali-Abu Dhabi service that is due to commence in April 2024.
With the general election just a month away, it is unlikely any new immigration legislation will be enacted in the next four weeks, though you never know! In the meantime, tourists planning their visits to Bali are encouraged to apply for a visa on arrival before touching down on the Island of the Gods. This can be done up to 48 hours before arrival in Bali online at the official Indonesia eVisa website.
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