By Vientiane Times/ANN
All international visitors to Laos will be eligible to apply online for a single entry visa with a planned maximum stay of 30 days, a senior official in charge from the ministry’s Consular Department told Vientiane Times on Friday.
Those hoping to visit Laos on multi-entry visas or planning to stay longer than 30 days need to apply for an entry visa at Lao embassies or consulates abroad.
The government has given a green light allowing the ministry to launch the E-visa service, the ministry said in its statement.
The Consular Department under the ministry, in collaboration with the relevant sectors, is accelerating preparations for the launch.
The move, which is in line with the government’s policy to modernise and quicken public services, aims to facilitate and attract more foreign visitors to Laos. Preparations to launch the E-visa service have been underway for some time.
Speaking to Vientiane Times previously, Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, Soun Manivong welcomed the E-visa scheme.
Once the E-visa service goes online, the director said it would be more convenient for foreign tourists to apply for an entry visa.
Though visas on arrival have been provided and proved convenient for foreign visitors, those who have never been to Laos before are still often unsure if these services are actually available at border checkpoints, Mr Soun said.
Those seeking to apply for a Lao entry visa prior to their departure from their home countries particularly encounter difficulty when Lao embassies or consulates are not available in their countries. In such cases, the foreign applicants need to apply for an entry visa from Lao embassies based in nearby countries, which is time-consuming with additional cost.
Introducing the E-visa scheme, the government hopes it will be an important factor to attract more foreign tourist arrivals and grow the tourism industry – a government prioritised sector to drive economic growth.
Lao authorities are struggling to identify and introduce incentives to lure more tourists from abroad with the country suffering a decline in foreign visitor arrivals from numerous markets in recent years.
Although Laos recorded more than 4.1 million foreign visitors last year, an increase of 8.2 percent compared to the year before, the figure failed to meet the target set at 5 million.
The announced launch of the E-visa service comes as Laos and China are promoting Visit Laos-China Year 2019.