876,748 Australians visited Bali between January and November 2015
Indonesia has announced that Australian tourists will be exempt from the USD 35 (A$ 49) fee and granted free visa entry into Indonesia. The announcement comes as part of Indonesia’s plan to attract 20 million foreign tourists annually by 2019.
Australia was previously included in the list but left off at the last minute because the Federal Government would not provide reciprocal rights for Indonesians. However, late last year Canberra did make changes in visa rules for Indonesian nationals, including the introduction of a three-year multiple entry visa and an online application system from 2017.
With agreement reached between the two countries, Australia will now be included in the new list of countries permitted free entry for 30 days, although no official date has yet been announced for the change to take effect. Other countries recently added to the list include Brazil, Ukraine, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Palestine, Honduras, Pakistan and Mongolia.
“We are doing it simply because we want more Australian tourists coming to Indonesia. It is true that the Government is receiving less from people entering Indonesia, but what the people can get in return [from tourism] is much bigger,” said Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs spokesman, Djoko Hartoyo.
More than 1.1 million Australians currently visit Indonesia every year, 90 per cent of whom travel to Bali, the favorite destination for Australians. Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum CEO, Margy Osmond said Indonesia’s move was a “strong play to attract more visitors to their shores and Australia should adopt a similar mentality”.
“Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbors with a growing middle class population, yet it is far down the list at number 12 by the country of origin for tourists coming to Australia, with only 151,000 Indonesians visiting in the past 12 months,” said Ms. Osmond. She added that Australia should seriously look at the cost of the A$135 visitor visa, describing it as a “financial disincentive to visit our country”.
“The Indonesian tourism market is worth approximately A$10.8 billion a year, but Australia is only attracting $500 million of that spending, a paltry 5.5 per cent of the Indonesian market,” Ms Osmond noted. “As we continue to see the Indonesian economy strengthen with the massive growth we expect to see in the Asia-Pacific, that represents a significant tourism market on our very doorstep that we need to do more to cultivate.”
Nearly 10 million tourists visit Indonesia annually, with the majority visiting Bali. Of the 3.6 million visits to Bali between January and November 2015, Australians topped the list with 876,748 visitors.