The new policy aims to increase tourist arrivals to Indonesia.
On 16 March Indonesia Tourism Minister, Arief Yahya, made an announcement that put a smile on the faces of most tour operators in Indonesia – waiving visa requirements for citizens of 30 more countries in Asia and Europe from April 2015.
The minister hopes the policy will boost tourism to Indonesia and increase tourist arrivals. Last year Indonesia received 9 million tourists, generating US$10 billion in revenue. With the expansion of the visa free access facility Indonesia hopes to achieve its target of 20 million arrivals by 2019,
Arief added that the offering of visa free travel was one of the easiest ways to increase tourist numbers, as it would remove the time and hassle of getting entry visas.
The latest addition will increase to 45 the number of countries whose nationals can enter Indonesia for short-term visits without the need for a visa.
However, Australia will be excluded from this list.
In explaining the exclusion of Australia, Arief was quoted as saying by Reuters: "If we give visa-free travel to Australia, we have to be given the same thing. It cannot be that we give it to them first,” adding the importance of reciprocity, and that the same principle applies in Indonesia.
The minister denied that the decision was tied to the planned execution of the two Australian nationals.
Indonesia already offers free visas to ASEAN member countries, as well as Hong Kong, Macau, Ecuador, Chile and Peru.
The countries that will join the visa free list in April are: China, Japan, South Korea, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and South Africa.
Visa free travel are only available through five international airports in Indonesia namely Jakarta, Medan, Batam, Bali and Surabaya.