Laos Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that Russian citizens are now under visa exemption. The new decree has been implemented since December 2nd and applies to ordinary passports’ holders. Russia remains a relatively small market, ranking 16th in 2016 with total tourists reaching only 13,033 arrivals. From Europe, France is the largest source market with a total of almost 55,000 travellers in 2016.
The visa exemption results from the signing of a visa exemption agreement in Vientiane by the two governments in September last year. Laotian passport holders are also benefiting of a similar measure when travelling to Russia.
Russia is then so far the only country which benefits of a visa exemption measure. The government had announced earlier this year to look at offering visa exemption on more countries to boost declining foreign tourist arrivals figures since 2016. The measure was supposed to enter into application with the launch of the Visit Lao Year 2018.
In 2016, total arrivals to Laos declined by 10% to 4.25 million. Tourism is the fourth largest economic driver of the country following mining, manufacturing and electricity.
The latest Lao government data over toruism show a further decline for 2017: tourist arrivals felt from January to September by 9.1% for most markets except for China. The number of foreign tourists reached just 2.88 million.
The agreement between Russia and Laos states that normal passports’ holders with no intention of visiting Laos or Russia for work, studying at educational institutes or living permanently can enter, leave or travel through the territory of the country within 30 days without visa.