Monday, February 15, 2016

Indonesian Visa-free policy boosts foreign tourist arrivals by 20 percent

The governments visa-free policy has helped to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals by 20 percent.

"Since the government implemented the visa-free policy, the number of tourist arrivals has increased by 20 percent," Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan stated at a joint working meeting with the Commission I and Commission III of the Indonesian House of Representatives here on Monday.

The joint working meeting was attended by Pandjaitan, Attorney General Prasetyo, Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi, and Director General of Immigration Ronnie F. Sompi, among others.

Despite the visa-free policy being imposed, security remains top priority.

The minister remarked that the government was concerned over the looming threats of terrorism and drugs.

The government has increased the number of immigration entry checkpoints from nine to 14 for tourists coming from countries granted visa-free facility for travel to Indonesia.

"Now, there are 14 exit checkpoints for foreign tourists. It is not easy to maintain security due to threats of terrorism and drugs," the minister pointed out.

The minister noted that the tourism sector ranked fourth in terms of contributing to the states revenue. The tourism sector will be the number one source of the states financial income by 2019.

On the occasion, Sompie explained that 121 immigration offices had been established to monitor the movement of strangers.

"In 2016, we will strengthen the team up to the district, sub-district, and village level," he revealed.

Earlier, the government had applied the visa-free policy for 84 countries as part of its efforts to boost the arrivals of foreign tourists in Indonesia, Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli stated.

Australia, Brazil, Ukraine, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Palestine, Honduras, Pakistan, Mongolia, Sierra Leone, Uruguay, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Israel, Albania, Mozambique, Macedonia, El Salvador, Zambia, Moldova, Madagascar, Georgia, Namibia, Kiribati, Armenia, Bolivia, Bhutan, Guatemala, Mauritius, and Paraguay were among the countries mentioned by Rizal, whose nationals would no longer need a visa to visit Indonesia.

The minister hoped that the extension of the free-entry policy would be able to increase foreign tourist arrivals in the country, which was targeted to reach 20 million by 2019. (Antara)

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