The latest news to hit the Island of Gods is that from January 2015, five major visitors to Indonesia will no longer have to pay to enter Indonesia for a holiday. The countries whose visa fees will be waived are Australia, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea (the five main markets for Indonesian Tourism).
The decision to scrap visa charges for certain countries aims to boost the number of foreign tourists, with the government expecting to see an additional 500,000 tourist arrivals per year.
Currently these five countries are charged $35 for a 30-day tourist visa to enter the country. This means an estimated loss of around $11.3 million per year. The government however proposes that with an average spending of $1,200 per tourist, the country will gain around $540 million in additional foreign exchange per year.
At the moment, Indonesia only applies visa-free access to citizens of 15 countries: nine ASEAN member countries, as well as Peru, Chile, Hong Kong, Morocco, Ecuador and Macau. This is in fact not that much when compared to Malaysia, which provides visa exemptions to 164 countries and Thailand, which waives visa requirements for 56 countries.
There's also talk of introducing third-country visas next year, whereby travelers who have gained entry to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand will be granted visa-free access to Indonesia.
We're not sure if saving $35 will encourage visitors to come to Bali, however if it does we hope that everyone will remember that they're only visitors to this island and treat it and its people with respect!