AFTER two false starts, Australian visitors to Bali are finally set to get free entry with Indonesia announcing a new list of countries to be exempt from the $49 fee.
Australia was previously included in the list but left off at the last minute because the Federal Government would not provide reciprocal rights for Indonesians.
Late last year, Canberra did flag changes in visa rules for Indonesians including the introduction of a three-year multiple entry visa and an online application tool from 2017.
Indonesia is set to scrap the $49 visa fee for Aussies visiting for less than a month.
The easing of requirements appears to have been enough to have appease Indonesia, which will now permit free entry for 30-days by citizens of 79 countries including Australia.
Other countries added to the list include Brazil, Ukraine, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Palestine, Honduras, Pakistan, and Mongolia.
No official date has yet been announced for the change to take effect.
Already, more than 1.1 million Australians a year visit Indonesia, 90 per cent of whom travel to Bali — making it our favourite overseas destination despite the entry fee.
Bali is already a very popular destination for Aussies with around a million visitors from down under each year.
Tourism and Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond said Indonesia’s move was a “strong play to attract more visitors to their shores and Australia should adopt a similar mentality”.
“Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbours with a growing middle class population,” said Ms Osmond.
“Yet it is far down the list at number 12, by the country of origin for tourists coming to Australia with only 151,000 Indonesians visiting the past 12-months.”
She said Australia should seriously look at the cost of the $135 visitor visa, describing it as a “financial disincentive to visit our country”.
Indonesia has increased security since the Jakarta terrorist attack last month, but it remains popular with Aussies.
“The Indonesian tourism market is worth approximately $10.8 billion a year but Australia is only attracting $500 million of that spending — a paltry 5.5 per cent of the Indonesian market,” Ms Osmond said.
“As we continue to see the Indonesian economy strengthen with the massive growth we expect to see in the Asia-Pacific, that represents a significant tourism market on our very doorstep that we need to do more to cultivate.”
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