The Jakarta Post
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Sunday that the government would raise the number of countries whose citizens would receive visa waivers when coming to Indonesia for a vacation.
The visa waiver facilities were devised to maintain good relations between Indonesia and the recipient countries and to boost the tourist industry in Indonesia, he said.
'With respect to the Riau Islands governor's [Muhammad Sani] request that more countries be provided with visa-free facilities for visits to Indonesia, we have been having discussions in Cabinet meetings. Actually, there will be around 60 to 70 countries granted visa-free facilities,' said Kalla in his remarks during the inauguration of Lagoi Plaza in Lagoi, Bintan, Riau Islands, on Sunday.
'Currently, we are waiting for a small change in a related law and then we will discuss it with the House of Representatives. The most important thing is that the country's security still be guaranteed,' he went on.
In March, the government said it would waive visa requirements for 30 countries starting in April.
'We hope the government can immediately realize its promise to give visa-free facilities to 30 countries so that tourist visits to Indonesia can increase,' he said.
The governor said Riau Islands ranked third on the list of provinces with the highest numbers of foreign tourists, after Bali and Jakarta, which reached 2 million people per year.
The implementation of the visa-free facilities has been hampered by legal issues; Law No.6/2011 on immigration stipulates that visa exemptions can only be made on a reciprocal basis.
The Tourism Ministry is currently proposing the elimination of the "reciprocity" clause as it may hamper the implementation of the visa-free facilities. (ebf)(+++)
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