Mon, 03 Oct 1994

RI provides visa-free facility for E. European countries

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia, aiming at attracting more tourist arrivals in the coming five years, is now providing visa-free entrance facilities for visitors from four countries in eastern Europe.

Director General of Tourism Andi Mappi Sammeng announced here on Saturday that Indonesia has agreed with Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic that visitors from those countries will be allowed to enter Indonesia without any visa and vice versa.

Indonesia currently offers visa-free facilities to visitors from 52 countries, including 22 in Europe, seven in the Americas, 11 in the Asia-Pacific region and six in Africa and the Middle East.

The visa-free facility allows visitors to obtain a visa upon arrival in Indonesia and to stay for 60 days.

"Such an arrangement will simplify bureaucratic procedures for visitors to enter Indonesia," he said.

The number of visitors from eastern European countries totaled less than 200,000 last year.

Andi also said that Indonesia is now considering easing administrative procedures for visitors from China.

Indonesia and China normalized diplomatic ties in August 1990 after a 23-year freeze. In August, the Indonesian government lifted a ban on the use of Chinese characters in the country. The Chinese language may now be used in the tourist industry.

Because hotels and travel bureaus are now allowed to publish brochures in Chinese, Indonesia is expected to bring in more tourists from Chinese speaking countries in Asia.

The southeastern and eastern Asian nations are the main tourist market for Indonesia. They contribute more than 30 percent of all foreign visitors.

Indonesia expects a steady increase in tourist arrivals from 3.4 million last year to 3.8 million this year. At the end of the current Sixth Five Year Development Plan (Repelita VI), the number of tourist arrivals is projected to further increase to 6.5 million, with total spending of $8.9 billion.

At Saturday's press conference, held for international journalists covering Travel Indonesia Mart '94, Andi also said that Indonesia will be selective in opening new air flight routes for foreign air carriers.

"We should select those which will give benefits to us," he said.

Indonesia, which has 19 international airports, currently allows 30 foreign airlines to serve the country. In comparison, Singapore and Thailand, which have fewer international airports, are served by more than 50 airlines each.(icn)