Resort developers and tour agents who market tour packages for Batam and Bintan islands are crying foul over Jakarta's sudden decision to change its visa rules.
On Jan 25, the Law and Human Rights Ministry said it would scrap the option for a US$10 visa-on-arrival for visitors from non-Asean countries, like the United States and Australia, which would let them stay in Indonesia for seven days.
It said that from Jan 26, only the 30-day visa costing US$25 would be issued.
Officials pitched the change as a bonus. Tourists could now stay longer to see more of the country, as their 30-day stay could then be extended by another month without them having to leave the country.
The government also said that having just one type of visa would reduce incidents of graft. It cited cases of officials issuing US$10 visas to those who paid US$25 and pocketing the difference.
But their move caused panic among travel agents in places such as Singapore and Taiwan. Many had already sold packages to Batam and Bintan, which are part of Indonesia's Riau Islands province, and had to dig into their own pockets to cover the extra costs.
Mr Andrew Dixon, one of the owners of the Nikoi Island resort off Bintan, pointed out that many visitors went to the islands for only a day of golf. 'It will increase the cost of a visit to Bintan for a family of four by US$60,' he told The Sunday Times. 'The weekend travel market is already price-sensitive as it competes with Malaysia.'
Earlier: Foreign tourists to be able to extend visa on arrival