Laos plans to establish consulate general in Siem Reap province to boost bilateral cooperation with Cambodia through tourism and trade, a senior official from Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.
“Tourism from Laos is increasing annually, so Lao PDR will establish a general consulate based in Siem Reap.” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Koung said. He added that Laos is also planning to expand flights to Cambodia.
The news came after an official meeting between Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs minister and the former Lao ambassador to Cambodia.
An official from the Lao Embassy, who asked not to be named, told the Post that experts are studying locations in Siem Reap for the consulate.
“We will submit the location proposal to the office in Laos and then to the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval,” he said.
“Siem Reap is located near Preah Vihear province and with a consulate in Siem Reap, tourists from a third country who wish to visit Laos can get visa either in Siem Reap or at the international check point,” the Lao Embassy official said.
The embassy official could not provide a timeframe for the consulate’s completion.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the new consulate will make applying and receiving visas easier for tourists.
“We are moving closer to a borderless region, so having one more consulate is good thing,” he added.
Kao Sivorn, director general of operations for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation said the establishment of a consulate will strengthen cooperation in civil aviation between the two countries.
Last year, Cambodia and Laos agreed to open an international border gate in Steung Treng province to facilitate trade and tourism.
The Post reported in April last year that delegations from Lao PDR had proposed a joint visa scheme with Cambodia.
Lao officials were reported saying the scheme will take at least until 2015 to be implemented due to “lack of experience and infrastructure”.
Figures from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism show the number of tourists visiting Cambodia from Laos in 2013 reached 414,513, up 63 per cent from 254,022 in 2012.