Russian tourists to visit Indonesia without visas?

Indonesia is staking on Russian tourists, the country's Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Udin Saifuddin said in an interview with a RIA Novosti correspondent on Tuesday. He headed an Indonesian delegation that had just returned from the Moscow International Exhibition "Travels and Tourism".

At present the ministry is preparing documents for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, which will later allow Russians to visit the country without acquiring a visa, he said.

Moreover, the Tourism Ministry will work to abolish the Transport Ministry's decision to increase the fee for Russian charter flights landing on the resort island of Bali by 7 times.

"The corresponding instructions have already been given inside the ministry," the deputy minister said.

According to him, Indonesia appreciates Russians' courage displayed after the October 2002 bomb explosions on Bali.

"After then the number of tourists from Australia, the USA, Western Europe and other countries fell drastically," he recalls. "Yet the number of Russians has on the contrary increased". Since then the number of Russian tourists visiting Indonesia has been surging, Mr. Saifuddin said.

"Our work is extremely important to strengthen relations between the two countries in general," he believes. "Russia started to learn about us due to travelers. Tourists are the first to come, followed by traders and then by official delegations", he explained.

Recently Indonesia has allowed citizens of some countries to acquire visas automatically, when arriving in the country. Russia has not been included in the list. The official reason is that Indonesians do not enjoy a similar privilege in Russia. Yet experts believe that the real reason is that Russian tourists are still not so numerous as those from the USA or Australia.

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