The recently inaugurated Indonesian Government under President Joko Widodo and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla already made some breakthroughs, including one aimed at boosting the number of Japanese tourists to Indonesia, as the Government plans to immediately apply visa-free facility to visitors from Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and Australia.

According to the statement by the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Mr. Indroyono Soesilo, on Wednedsay (5/11/14) in Jakarta, this facility is granted to those 5 countries as they are the main markets of Indonesia’s tourism industry. Those five countries will therefore join other 15 countries or territories who have already been granted such a waiver, namely, the 9 ASEAN countries, Chile, Hong Kong, Macau, Morocco, Peru and Ecuador.

The tourist visa waiver for citizens of those 5 countries is expected to commence in early 2015. This policy decision reflects the desire of the new Indonesian administration to boost the growth of foreign tourists to the country. In fact, the new government already sets a target of reaching 20 million foreign tourists by the year 2019, two times higher than the 2014 projection of 9,5 million visitors.

The Indonesian Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Yusron Ihza Mahendra, welcomes this decision as an important milestone in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Taking into account that Japan has also announced to grant short-visit tourist visa waiver for Indonesian visitors starting from 1 December 2014, both sides have thus reaffirmed the strength of their relations and the need to boost people-to-people ties between the two countries.

Both Indonesia and Japan have actively been taking measures to enhance the flows of visitors between the two countries, which will benefit tourism industry in both countries while at the same time promoting better understanding between the two peoples of the two nations. “We would like to see more Japanese students and young people to see the diversity of Indonesia beyond Bali. By seeing Indonesia first hand, these young people will experience the real Indonesia from their own perspective. Their experience will then contribute to the strengthening of our two countries’ relationship, and they will be able to tell their Japanese friends that Indonesia is so diverse in its cultural richness and destinations”, said Ambassador Yusron.

As one of the main target markets of Indonesia’s tourism industry, Japan ranked the 5th in Indonesia’s foreign tourist arrival in 2013, after Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and China with a contributing total number of 479,305 visitors. As stated by Minister Indroyono Susilo, Indonesia expects this new policy will generate additional increase of 450,000 – 500,000 tourists every year, with additional foreign revenue to reach up to USD 540 million. Therefore, while waiving tourist visa will actually imply the loss of revenue previously generated from visa processing fee (which stands at US$ 35 per visitor), the Indonesian Government is confident that it can offset this loss with an even more substantial foreign revenues deriving from the increased number of foreign visitors to Indonesia, including from Japan. Indonesia also wishes to see Japanese visitors to travel not only to Bali but to other destinations in Indonesia as well, such as the Raja Ampat Islands, Central Java (Yogyakarta-Solo-Borobudur), Manado, Bandung, Lombok and the Komodo Island.