Free visa comes with price to pay

If you throw open your doors and invite all and sundry in, you might expect a few problems.

Overstaying visitors and unlicensed foreign workers have been identified as among the risks of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decision to waive visa requirements for visitors from 169 countries looking to stay in Indonesia for less than 30 days. 01touris560

Jokowi’s administration wants to boost the number of tourists visiting the country to 20 million by 2019, double the number recorded last year, however the free-visa policy has been subject to abuse.

Last week, the immigration authorities in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, arrested three Chinese tourists for exceeding their 30-day stay permits. In Ponorogo, East Java, a 28-year-old Pakistani was deported in March for staying beyond his 30-day permit.

“The policy will certainly increase visitor numbers to Indonesia, but it has to be followed by intensified supervision,” marketing and tourism observer Popy Rufaidah from Padjadjaran University said at a recent discussion on the free-visa policy, which was also attended by the tourism Minister.