A new online business visa and the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement (TCA) were the standout topics of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy’s recent webinar “New Visa Policy: Challenges and Opportunities for Tourism in the New Normal Era: Part 1”.
Achmad Yurianto, senior advisor on technology and globalisation to the Health Minister, said the government is committed to facilitating essential travel, including business travel, and the ASEAN TCA framework.
The new eVisa enables business entities, such as hotels, tour operators and travel agents, to sponsor foreigners to enter Indonesia for business purposes. A health clearance and return ticket are required for the 60-day visa, which is extendable. While in Indonesia, foreigners are permitted to engage in tourism activities, although the business entity is responsible for their whereabouts at all times.
While the previous business visa application process required the applicant to present at an Indonesian embassy or consulate prior to travelling, the eVisa enables successful applicants to travel directly to Indonesia. It costs US$50, with a 200,000 rupiah (US$14) administration fee.
Agus Majid, deputy director for international cooperation at the Directorate General of Immigration, said “the reopening of Indonesia’s borders is currently limited to essential business. The government is assessing the possibilities of opening for tourism, but limiting this to selected destinations, and [to travellers from] selected countries.”
Majid emphasised that reopening borders is highly political. “At the technical level we might be able to prepare everything, but the decision must come from the high level. We are trying to ensure that the technical level is ready, but the higher level decision is needed.”
To facilitate essential business and diplomatic travel among ASEAN member states and support economic recovery, ASEAN leaders committed to establishing the TCA at the 37th ASEAN Summit on 12 November.
The tourism ministry's ASEAN economic cooperation director, Berlianto Situngkir, said that a digitised platform which is “transparent, credible and inter-operable” among ASEAN member states will play a crucial role in the framework’s success.
He explained that while the TCA is currently only for essential business travel, “it could be extended to the tourism sector”. Situngkir said that it was the ministry’s “deepest hope” that the TCA “can be in place as early as possible.”
Indonesia has already signed secure travel arrangements with the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, China and Singapore, while an arrangement with Japan is still in the pipeline.
Vinsensius Jemadu, the ministry’s deputy for marketing, said “Covid-19 has changed everything, but Covid cannot change our spirit to move on in the tourism industry. Indonesian tourism is ready.”
Although Bali’s provincial government suggested in July that it was formulating a “Work from Bali” campaign to appeal to digital nomads, a special visa for remote workers was not discussed during the webinar.
Perhaps this will need to wait until Part 2.