If there are any Australians reading this, we wouldn’t blame you for not believing this news. After all, Indonesia has already burned Australia twice with promises that it would waive visa fees for tourists from the Land Down Under only to go back on those promises after not being able to negotiate reciprocal deals to make it easier for Indonesians to enter Australia.
But the last time Indonesia talked about waiving visa fee for Australians was back in December, when Oz was included in a list of 84 other countries that were also to be granted visa-free access to our archipelago. Well it took quite a while, and a few countries were lost in the process, but last Friday the Cabinet Secretary released a statement that President Joko Widodo had officially signed into law a decree granting visa free entry to citizens of 79 countries who stay in Indonesia for 30 days or less, including Australia.
If you still don’t believe us – here’s the official announcement from the Indonesian Consulate in Sydney.
It doesn’t get much more official than that. But note that, although the announcement says the free visas were granted on March 10, the embassy just tweeted a follow-up statement clarifying that the free visas have “yet to become effective” at Indonesian immigration points.
Ok, maybe you still have your doubts. How about this statement for an Indonesian tourism official?
“Thank God, Australia to Indonesia is now officially visa-free,” said I Gede Pitana, the Tourism Ministry’s Deputy of International Marketing, as quoted by Vivanews. He added that he expects the visa waiver to increase the number of Australian tourists to Indonesia by 5 to 25 percent. Last year, abut 814,000 Australians visited Indonesia.
Including Australia, the newly signed decree increases the number of countries granted visa-free visits to Indonesia up to a total of 169. The government recently said that it wants to attract 20 million foreign tourists annually by 2019 in an effort to boost the economy. Given that only 9.73 million foreign tourists came to Indonesia in 2015, it’s no surprise the government is willing to bend on their reciprocity rules to convince more Australian holidaymakers to come here.