The Tourism Ministry will evaluate the free-visa policy introduced last year to boost foreign tourist arrivals, following reports of frequent immigration violations.
“The evaluation will start in April, one year after the policy was introduced,” said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya in Jakarta on Friday as reported by tempo.co.
The free-visa policy for 169 countries was introduced based on Presidential Regulation No. 21/2016. Previously, free visas were given to visitors from 90 countries.
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Arief said tourist arrivals increased 18.87 percent last year.
“We will see. Singapore and Malaysia have free-visa policies that include 150 countries. The free-visa policy is like a starter card in our cell phones. The easier we can get the cards, the more people will use them,” the minister said.
“So it is understandable that Malaysia welcomed 25 million tourists and Singapore 15 million.”
Previously, Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the government might revoke the policy for two reasons – if the policy did not have a positive impact on tourism and if tourists from certain countries frequently violated immigration regulations.
Many commentators, including lawmakers, have called for an evaluation of the free-visa policy following reports of Chinese tourists frequently violating immigration regulations.
Luhut, however, said based on an initial evaluation, the number of tourists that stayed longer than the specified period on the visa and the number of those that had tried to get jobs in the country, was insignificant.