Indonesia will evaluate its visa-free policy as there are reports that some foreigners abuse this facility by conducting illegal activities in Indonesia, for example by taking up employment without having a work permit, engaging in drug trafficking, or spreading radical ideologies in the Archipelago. Through Presidential Regulation no. 21/2016 on Exemptions of Visit Visa, the government of Indonesia allowed citizens from a total of 169 countries to enter and stay within Indonesia (for a maximum period of 30 days).
This Presidential Regulation was designed and implemented in an effort to boost the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia (hence increasing the nation's foreign exchange earnings). The tourism sector is envisaged to become a key contributor to Indonesia's overall gross domestic product (GDP). In 2015 only 9.7 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia, far from tourist figures recorded in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.
Although the visa-free policy implies Indonesia misses out on an estimated USD $11.3 million in state revenue per year (as prior to the policy USD $35 was charged for a ‘visa on arrival’), it is expected to attract an additional 450,000 foreign visitor arrivals per year. Considering each foreign tourist spends an average of between USD $1,100 and USD $1,200 during his/her visit to Indonesia, the nation would therefore gain around USD $500 million in additional foreign exchange revenue each year.
Furthermore, rising tourist numbers in Indonesia would boost investment in this sector and generate much-needed employment opportunities for the local population.
However, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said there are foreigners who abuse the visa-free access to Indonesia. They pretend to be a tourist, while, in fact, they take up employment (which is illegal without having a work permit). This particularly applies to people from African countries where it is more difficult to find a job (and attractive salary) compared to Indonesia. Kalla said authorities will monitor the situation and if it detects any violations, then the foreigner will be sent back home.
Earlier, Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR) urged the government to evaluate the visa-free policy as it is vulnerable to abuse by illegal foreign workers, drug traffickers and those that aim to spread radical ideology in Indonesia. Heri Gunawan, member of DPR Commission XI, said the visa-free policy could cause state losses above IDR 1 trillion (approx. USD $75 million), excluding the potential loss of domestic employment opportunities.
Last week, the Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Harry Purwanto, announced that the government of Indonesia introduced a new policy for Nigerians who want to visit Indonesia. Under this new policy the embassy in Nigeria has been withdrawn from processing visas. Instead it will only collect visa applications and then send them to Indonesia for processing. The ambassador did not inform why this change of policy was introduced. Nigeria is not among the 169 countries that enjoy visa-free access to Indonesia, presumably due to drug trafficking. Over the past couple of years several Nigerian citizens were killed through the death penalty in Indonesia having been found guilty of drug trafficking.