Indonesia to give visa exemption to 25 nationalities

The government will expand the number of nationalities entitled to visa waivers to 25 as part of its initial implementation stage of economic structural reform policy packages. “We will have 25 countries receiving visa exemptions from the current four. Almost all European countries are included in the programme,” Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in Jakarta on March 16.

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The minister made the comments after he attended a coordination meeting to discuss the finalization of the government’s economic structural reform policy packages at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister. The four nationalities already receiving visa wavers are Chinese, Japanese, Russian and South Korean. The other 21 nationalities, mostly European, will be officially announced soon. Arief said the visa exemption was aimed at increasing the number of tourists visiting Indonesia to 10 million this year.

The visa exemption is one of four main regulations, the others being on biofuel use, anti-dumping import duties and reinsurance operations of state-owned enterprises, issued to both increase Indonesia’s foreign exchange reserves and improve the country’s work performance on servicing the trade balance.

“The [visa exemption] policy can result in an additional 15 per cent tourists in Indonesia from the total 5 million,” said the minister. “With an additional 750,000 foreign tourists from the visa exemption policy, we can get additional revenue of almost US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) from tourism,” he went on.

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Earlier, the government granted visa exemption for people from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Laos, Makau, Malaysia, Marocco, Myanmar, Peru, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Indonesia’s trade balance has become a main contributor to the country’s current account deficit. The government said the current account deficit, which had continued to widen, was an internal problem that it must deal with as it was having a negative impact on the rupiah’s exchange rate. With a better controlled deficit, Indonesia’s economic fundamentals would be maintained and would not be overly susceptible to global economic pressure.

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