"Who knows that we have waived visa requirements but tourists have not taken advantage of the privilege? So, we need to evaluate the policy," he said at the Merdeka Palace compound in Jakarta on Friday.
The government had originally planned to waive visa requirements for 170 countries as part of efforts to increase the number of tourist arrivals, he said.
"We realize why the number of tourist arrivals in Indonesia is only 10 million, while our neighboring countries, which are smaller than us, have more than 20 million tourist arrivals per year. One of the factors is that they have waived visa requirements for many countries," he said.
He said that the free-visa policy had an adverse impact, particularly its abuse to seek employment. That is the case with Chinese migrant workers in Indonesia, who are reportedly not equipped with labor documents.
"China has a population of 1.4 billion. If Chinese citizens wish to visit Indonesia, they must first travel to Beijing, Shanghai or Guandong where there are Indonesian consulates. Imagine how difficult is it for the citizens of the huge country to travel abroad because they have to obtain their visas first. In view of its large potential for tourism, China is among the 170 countries for which we have waived visa requirements," he said.
He added that the wages of blue collar workers in Indonesia are far lower than those in China so it is not wages that motivate foreign nationals to work in Indonesia.
"It is not easy for foreign nationals to come to Indonesia to work as blue collar workers. Why? The wages of blue collar workers in Indonesia range from Rp2 million to Rp3 million, compared to the Chinese minimum wages which range from Rp4.5 million to Rp5 million," he said.
He asked law enforcement agencies to deport any foreign national who abuses the tourist visa to work in the country.
(Reported by M. Irfan Ilmie/Uu.S012/INE/KR-BSR/B003)