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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Lao Government Discusses Tourist Visa Exemptions to Attract More Visitors

This Week

The Lao government should consider visa waivers for additional countries to attract more tourists, as proposed by Lao National Assembly (NA) members during the ongoing 7th Ordinary Session on 10 June.

The tourism industry has made a substantial contribution to the economy of Laos in recent years. As a result, Saithong Xaiyaong, a member of the National Assembly from Champasack Province, suggested that visa waivers could attract more tourists to Laos. He urged the Lao government to carefully evaluate which countries and visitors could benefit from such a policy.

He urged the government to streamline visa requirements and the visa process for visitors.

Meanwhile, Saithong also emphasized the need for Laos to upgrade its tourism infrastructure, enhance facilities at tourist sites, and implement higher standards at restaurants, hotels, and popular attractions. He noted that these improvements could create a positive impression on visitors and encourage them to revisit Laos.

Currently, Laos grants visa exemptions to citizens of 36 countries. However, the exemptions can vary depending on whether they hold diplomatic, service, or ordinary passports, as stated by the Department of Immigration of Laos.

These countries include Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, North Korea, Ecuador, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Myanmar, Norway, Peru, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, Serbia, Slovak, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.

Last year, Laos moved up slightly to 93rd place on the Henley Passport Index, which ranks passports based on the number of countries their holders can access without a visa.

Tourism experts believe that expanding these visa waivers to more countries could significantly boost tourist arrivals in Laos. In the first three months of this year, Laos experienced a 36 percent increase in foreign tourist arrivals compared to the same period last year, with over 1.1 million visitors, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The statistics, revealed by the Tourism Marketing Department of the ministry, highlight that the largest numbers of tourists came from Thailand, Vietnam, China, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and Germany.

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