Indonesia's state news agency Antara reported on Friday (29/01) that the government of Indonesia will sign a regulation next week that allows visa-free visits for 80 additional countries, including Australia. Currently, a total of 90 countries already enjoy this visa-free facility (for trips that last a maximum of 30 days). Antara quoted the words of the country's Deputy Tourism Minister for Overseas Promotion I Gde Pitana. In 2015 the government provided this facility to an additional 45 countries in an effort to boost the tourism industry and generate more foreign exchange earnings.
This means that a total of 170 countries will enjoy the visa-free visit facility (making it easier and cheaper for foreigners to access Indonesia) soon. Although the government will earn less revenue through the selling of short visit visas (currently it charges USD $35 for a visa-on-arrival), the visa-free facility is expected to boost the number of foreign tourist arrivals. And as each foreign tourist is estimated to spend up to USD $1,200 per visit, it will thus result in significantly more foreign exchange earnings.
It is remarkable that Australia has been named as one of the countries that will receive the visa-free facility as diplomatic relations between both countries have experienced some downs in recent years. Moreover, initially Indonesia requested a visa-free facility for its own citizens when traveling to Australia (reciprocity), a request ignored by Australia. Diplomatic relations between both nations have been tested by Indonesia's decision to execute two Australian citizens in early 2015 (despite Australia requesting for clemency) and the 'spying scandal' that occurred in 2013 when allegations were made that the Australia Signals Directorate attempted to monitor activity on the mobile phones of then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and several senior government officials.
Read Analysis: Overview of Indonesia's Tourism Industry
The island of Bali - known as the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia - attracted a total of 3.6 million foreign tourists in the January-November 2015 period. Most of these tourists (876,748) originated from Australia.
Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Indonesia, 2013-2015:
|Month|| Tourist Arrivals
| Tourist Arrivals
| Tourist Arrivals
Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Indonesia, 2007-2015:
¹ indicates government target
Source: Statistics Indonesia (BPS)
Maybe some day, same regulations will be applied to business visitors, who currently need to apply from overseas....