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Visa exemptions among the measures expected to boost foreign arrivals to Indonesia

The Indonesian government has approved a visa waiver policy for 30 countries including Italy, Germany, China and the US. Officials are hoping to that by making travel to Indonesia hassle free for citizens of these selected markets, Indonesia will become a more attractive holiday destination. Indonesia is currently working towards a goal of doubling the number of annual foreign arrivals by 2020.

Visa exemptions among the measures expected to boost foreign arrivals to Indonesia

In an effort to increase the number of foreign holidaymakers visiting Indonesia, the government has decided to grant visa free entry to travellers from 30 countries. Among the list of visa exempt countries are the US, Canada, China, Japan, Italy and Germany.

The visa waiver programme will now make booking holidays to Indonesia virtually hassle free and ultimately make it a more attractive destination for nationals of the selected markets. At the time of the announcement, Tourism Minister Areif Yahya stated:

"We hope with this policy we'll improve services for people who want to visit Indonesia. They don't have to spend time and energy getting entry visas. Secondly, tourists to Indonesia would increase, perhaps to 1 million annually".

Today Indonesia attracts a fraction of the number of foreign travellers that regional peers like Thailand and Malaysia welcome each year. In 2014 Indonesia recorded 9.4 million international arrivals while Thailand and Malaysia achieved 24.8 million and 27.4 million respectively.

The decision to offer visa free travel to key source markets forms part of a broader strategy aimed at doubling the number of visitors to Indonesia by 2020.

In order to achieve its 2020 target and compete with other Southeast Asian destinations, the government has also significantly increased Indonesia's tourism marketing budget. President Joko Widodo has committed to quadrupling the current tourism budget to the equivalent of $300 million USD in 2016. According to Yahya, the funds will be allocated towards promoting its top destinations- Bali, Jakarta and the Batam and Bintan islands.

In terms of improvements to the infrastructure, the Indonesian government is currently focusing on developing Bali, however, greater emphasis will be placed on the areas outside of the more popular Southern Bali. The Indonesian government is said to be moving forward with plans to build an international airport in Northern Bali's Singaraja in addition to constructing a toll road from Denpasar to Gilimanuk in West Bali.

"We cannot promote every destination in Indonesia as it's very expensive. Our strategy is that tourism development follows infrastructure development".

Expressed Yahya about the marketing strategy his ministry would be pursing.

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