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Reports are circulating that Indonesia might be scrapping tourist visa fees in 2015. The countries being proposed to get free visas include Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Indonesia’s tourism minister Arief Yahya told reporters: “These five countries are Indonesia’s major markets, with big potential to grow.”

The tourist visa fee (VOA) is currently US$35 and the number of visitors to Indonesia is approaching nearly 9 million people, so it would be quite a loss of income for the country.

Regular visitors to Indonesia will of course be happy with the change, but it is difficult to say if it will directly lead to an increase in tourists. Some countries in South East Asia have a visa on arrival fee, such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Singapore and Malaysia are free to enter.

Some people may argue that tourists will spend more once they arrive in the country if they don’t have to pay a fee, but of course there is no way to know that this will be the case. I think one of the main advantages for tourists is that it would make entry a little smoother.
I have read through some of people’s opinions on Facebook and quite a few people have said that they would prefer to pay the fee and see that the money is spent on infrastructure and social welfare programs.

What do you think? Do you think scrapping the visa on arrival will boost tourism?