Although Laos provides visa-on-arrivals to a large number of countries, the crossing of terrestrial borders to Lao PDR can sometimes be complicated with various visa fees. from time to time, abuses have been signaled at international land checkpoints.
They have been reports of travellers being asked to pay higher fees for a tourist visa than required. It is a limited problem but it could become a serious image issue for Lao PDR. growing tourist arrivals at terrestrial borders are also increasing pressure on border facilities.
According to Sounh Manivong, Director General of the Tourism Development Department at the Lao Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism, the country is now studying the possibility to launch a system of e-visa. It would then help not only to speed up borders’ crossings but also help to control potential abuses against travellers. “it would be the right step to facilitate tourists movements at borders and reduce waiting time”, said Mr. Manivong.
Lao needs to introduce more flexibility in visa attribution as more tourists are coming year after year with most travellers entering the country through land borders.
According to Mr. Manivong, the ministry estimates that there were 4.3 million international tourist arrivals to Laos last year, up by increasing 4.9% from 4.1 million in 2014. Tourism generated US$ 670 million in revenue.
As Lao PDR is taking the chairmanship of the ASEAN, the country is looking at launching new initiatives in tourism. Laos wants to become Southeast Asia’s model for sustainable tourism. The country will welcome between June 18 and 23 in Vientiane the ASEAN Ecotourism Forum,which will look ‘mainstreaming ecotourism and responsible travel in Southeast Asia”. The forum should look at new ways to boost and promote environment friendly policies for tourism in a bid to attract more foreign investors in the region. New tourism products will also be presented during the forum while example of conservation and preservation of ecotourism assets will be highlighted.