More than 50 percent of respondents to a recent survey indicated that the current visa policy in Indonesia would “definitely, probably or maybe” put them off returning to the country. Such opinions are among findings compiled by Bali Hotels Association (BHA), in response to government appeals for statistical information and feedback relating to the implementation of the February 2004 visa policy.
BHA, Bali’s group of star rated hotel and resort general managers, officially presented its findings Wednesday to the Bali Tourism Office Director Gede Nurjaya. The report came from a survey conducted recently in which 10,000 questionnaires were distributed through 55 member hotels to arriving international visitors upon hotel check-in. Data was compiled by the Bali Tourism Board, as an independent, unbiased body, from the 21 percent of surveys completed and returned.
Survey respondents had already made a decision to come to Bali despite the implementation of the new visa policy. A survey conducted by BHA prior to the visa policy implementation indicated that 62 percent of respondents would not return should the policy be implemented. An online travel industry survey conducted previously by BHA indicated that 54 percent of agents felt the visa policy directly impacts bookings to Bali, steering visitors to other destinations.
The newly released report reveals that a significant number of visitors experienced inconvenience through delays in the visa process, particularly those whom were required to apply for a visa prior to visiting Bali. In principle, the survey reflected little opposition to charging a visa fee but there was notable opposition to the process. Survey analysis indicates that key markets such as Japan and Taiwan show a high level of dissatisfaction in the efficiency of processing visas. There is a direct correlation in the declining number of arrivals from countries whose nationalities indicated greater inconvenience in visa processing. And where Bali has seen market decreases, particularly from Europe and Scandinavia, Thailand has seen a correlating increase.
“Arrival statistics indicate a recovery of tourism to Bali,” said Robert Kelsall, Chairman of the Bali Hotels Association. “But, we are creating a precarious situation, with Bali’s source markets becoming more limited as we experience declines in key source markets which historically produce quality visitors who stay longer and consequently spend more.”
? Efficiency: Overall, efficiency is lacking in service and processing, with 20 percent of all respondents unhappy, 25 percent of Japanese and 31 percent of Dutch
? Courtesy: Nearly all respondents found airport services discourteous
? Convenience: More than half of all respondents felt inconvenienced, with the Dutch, Germans and Japanese feeling most put out
? Information: 20 to 30 percent knew nothing of the new visa regulations, while more than half of Japanese found the airport process confusing—even Dutch and Australians complained bout the unclear process and unclear information at the airport
? Welcome: 30 percent of overall respondents felt unwelcome by the new procedure—that went up to 46 percent for Dutch and 60 percent for Japanese
? Processing Time: Most applying for visas at embassies abroad took more than one to two full weeks to get a visa. While the target time for processing at the airport is 10 minutes, the average wait time for those surveyed was 25 minutes. For Taiwanese, the average waiting time at the airport is 48 minutes.
? Cost: Although visa costs on arrival were stable, visas at embassies range from US$36 to $72, averaging $53.
? Return to Bali: more than half indicated the new process would probably/definitely/maybe deter them from returning to Indonesia.
The new policy, which was instituted in February 2004, limits visa-free entry to tourists from 21 countries, down from the previous list of 60 countries. Tourists from nine countries and two regions which extend similar privileges to Indonesians do not need visas: Brunei, Chile, Macau, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Three-day visas for US$10 and 30-day visas for US$25 are issued on arrival to nationals from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Citizens of countries not on either list must apply for a visa at an Indonesian embassy abroad, prior to arrival.