Australian passport holders are reportedly one of the luckiest in the world. For many countries, the only preparation required is presenting your passport on arrival for an instant visa. There are however, always exceptions. One of the more popular destinations for Australian travellers, is Indonesia. At present this requires the purchase of a USD$35 Visa on arrival, in order for entry to be allowed. In the past, purchasing that visa has not always been a pleasant task.

For travellers arriving into Bali, long queues could be experienced depending on when your flight arrived. Ferry travellers to Batam, located near Singapore, were often surprised to find the Visa could only be purchased with cash, despite credit cards supposedly being accepted. With the appointment of new Indonesian leadership recently, this is all about to change. From next year, entry will be a fee free Visa on arrival for Australian passport holders. Our members were happy to hear the news.

That visa queue was horrendous. I wonder why the change? That is a great money spinner for Indonesia – we used to estimate the crowd each time and multiply by $25USD!

The move is aimed at increasing tourist numbers to the country if the press release is to be believed. With average weekly earnings on the lower end of the scale, the loss of revenue for the country will no doubt be missed, hopefully replaced by more people spending money as part of their stay in the country. That should of benefit to more of the Indonesian population in general, with a few notable exceptions.

The guy at Jakarta airport who runs a business of offering “express” immigration to visitors will be losing a lot of $$$!

While the USD$35 is not a great deal of money for Australians, its removal will also open up new opportunities for savvy travellers. Singapore hotels have been expensive for some time now as the island has developed and grown. With Indonesian islands like Batam only a short ferry ride away from Singapore, the cheap 4-5 star hotels on those islands have been tempting to stay at until you add a nightly visa fee to the ferry cost. From next year, those $75 rooms seem a lot better value. And its not only hotels that are likely to benefit.

Liking this, I had actually thought of cheap places to fly to in Asia to then get the cheaper award flights on some programs or cheaper airfares to Europe/USA from Asia but because J* doesn’t interline baggage with anyone but themselves or maybe Qantas meant you have to go through customs and pay the VOA of $35 on the way in to rebook your bags and then $15-20 or so on the way out… Now its not going to have the VOA I might fly to Bali or Jakarta just to get onward flights..

Are the changes going to prompt you to do a rethink on visiting Indonesia in the near future, or perhaps you see some opportunities to take advantage of the change, why not put forward your view on the news HERE.

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