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Indonesia Waives Tourist Visa for 30 Countries

FILE - Indonesian girls put bowls of holy water on their heads as they perform a traditional dance during the opening ceremony of Lake Toba Festival on Samosir island, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Travel agencies in Indonesia are welcoming a new visa waiver policy for tourists from 30 countries, aimed at increasing tourism.

Chairman of the Indonesia Travel Agencies Association, Hasiyanna Ashadi, told VOA most travel agencies hope the move will be a boost for business.

“We look at the tourist visa waiver positively because we have been hoping for that to happen for many, many years,” she said.

On Monday, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya told reporters he hoped the new policy will significantly boost the number of tourists.

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

In 2014, 9 million tourists visited Indonesia generating $10 billion in revenue. This year the government in Jakarta set a revenue target of $12 billion.

Previously, Indonesia granted tourist visa waivers to only 15 countries, including Chile, Hong Kong and Peru.

The additional 30 countries include the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, Italy and Spain.

One conspicuous absence from the list is neighboring Australia, which made up nearly 12 percent of all foreign tourists to Indonesia last year.

Yahya claims Australia was excluded because of its own tourism policy.

“Australia applies a universal visa policy, which requires all people coming to Australia to possess a visa, including Indonesians. Therefore, a reciprocity principle applies here in Indonesia,” he said.

Indonesian-Australian relations have deteriorated in recent months as a result of the impending execution of two Australian drug traffickers in Jakarta.

Jennifer Smith contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.

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