JAKATA: Gorgeous destinations that Israelis could only see in the movies will soon become accessible now that Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, is accepting tourism-visa applications from Israelis since May 1.
Until now Israelis could only obtain business visas, costing about $800. Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations, so the process of obtaining a visa can be long.
Until 2015, travel agencies could get a few tour groups into Indonesia – after arduous attempts.
Even though Indonesia and Israel have no diplomatic relations, they have a chamber of commerce that helps promote Israeli tourism to the Southeast Asian country. Although nothing has been signed between the two sides, Israelis have been able to apply for tourism visas since Tuesday – May 1.
Because of the absence of diplomatic relations, the visa process is laborious. Israelis can only apply via the Israel Indonesia Agency, which was set up last month and charges $135 for securing a visa. The document is for 30 days; an extension costs $35 per day.
If the visa request is approved by the authorities in Indonesia, the Israeli must pick it up at the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, where the wait will be a few hours.
The embassy’s service in turn costs 75 Singapore dollars ($56), or the embassy can send the passport and visa by courier for another 50 Singapore dollars. Talks are underway to let Israelis get their Indonesia visa in Israel.
While formal approval of the visa arrangement is expected any day, next year Indonesia will decide whether to continue the program or abolish it.