PLEASE NOTE: After a number of false starts on this subject, it now appears that within the next couple of weeks, this welcome news for Australian citizens will become a reality. Check with your travel agent!

Indonesian Tourism Ministry announces plans to eliminate the US$35 visa-on-arrival fee for citizens of Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia effective sometime during January 2015. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, who announced the plans after a ministerial meeting, said that the plan to offer free visas to tourists from those five countries is part of a larger plan to boost tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings. “These countries are our main foreign tourist targets” Arief told reporters Wednesday, “…we have to improve the visa service.” The Tourism Ministry is reportedly targeting an increase of 400-500 thousand tourist arrivals and a US$11.3 million increase in tourism foreign exchange earnings for next year and hope that by streamlining the visa process for Indonesia’s top tourism sources it will achieve these goals. Visitors from outside of these countries will still be required to obtain a visa on arrival and pay the US$35 fee.