WELL this is sure going to piss people off.
Australians currently have to pay US$35 a head to gain entry into Indonesia, which pays for visa fees that allow a traveller to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
Incidentally, the fee had increased from US$25 to US$35 last year, and with the weaker Australian dollar factored in, it amounts to around AU$45 per person today.
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So here’s where it gets interesting…
Up until a few months ago, Australians were on track to begin enjoying visa-free travel to the popular tourism hotspot.
This was because Australia had been included on a list of countries that were under consideration to have visa fees scrapped in order to boost tourism.
But this week, Indonesian Tourist Minister Arief Yahya has announced that Aussie tourists have been excluded from the final list – which does include 45 other nations.
Of course, this decision has nothing to do with political tensions or diplomatic unrest over the impending execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Arief stressed.
Yeah, sure it doesn’t.
If that’s the case, I’d like to go on record as stating that the sky is green, the Titans are tee-totallers and Elvis is alive and well.
Because, really, could they be any more obvious?
Our head politicians have been trading blows in the media for weeks, so it’s fairly clear that there’s no love lost between Australia and Indonesia right now.
Plus, a senior ministry official pretty much came right out and told The Jakarta Post that the decision was at least partially politically motivated.
“Giving free visas to Australians may bring more detriment than benefit,” the unnamed official also said.
Presumably, he’s alluding to the fact that visa funds earned from Australians – who comprise 12 percent of all tourists flooding into Indonesia each year – would be sorely missed if we were added to the ‘waiver’ list.
“Besides, Bali would still be their favourite destination anyway,” the official said. “I don’t think a visa on arrival fee of around US$35 would be a burden for any Australian tourist.”
You may be missing the point there, dude. If you’re handing over five grand to spend a week in a five-star resort in Bali, then you’re right – an extra $200 in visa fees won’t break the bank.
But a fair chunk of the Australian population are already mighty upset about your country’s corrupt and barbaric justice system.
And this fee? It’s just adding insult to injury.
Where do you stand? Would you still travel to Bali, or is it on your ‘travel no go’ list in light of recent events?
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