Laos is falling in line with other countries by allowing tourists to apply for a visa online, aiming to bolster the number of foreign visitors.
Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith and representatives of other sectors involved on Tuesday pressed buttons to initiate the e-visa service at a special ceremony held at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane.
Speaking at the launch of the e-visa initiative, Mr Saleumxay said the issuing of visas electronically was designed to make it easier for foreign tourists to enter Laos.
Another objective of the service is to implement the government’s policy to broaden cooperation with the international community and improve public services, he added.
According to information made available to media, through this e-visa system travellers can upload their application form and pay the visa fee online at https://laoevisa.gov.la/index.
Once they have completed their application, they will receive a visa approval letter from Lao authorities by email. They can then show this to immigration officials upon entry at designated border crossings.
To begin with, e-visas will be accepted only at Wattay International Airport and the first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge.
The government expects to expand the service to other border crossings, namely Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 2, Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 4, Luang Prabang International Airport, Pakxe International Airport, and the Boten border crossing in the near future.
Saleumxay said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked with other sectors to create the e-visa system and sourced the services of a specialist company to assist with the process.
By the end of last year, the government had chosen the Lao Gateway Co Ltd to devise the e-visa system.
The system is now up and running and will be on offer under the supervision of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Laos has unilateral and bilateral visa exemption agreements with 46 countries, including Cambodia with a 30-day length of stay allowed visa-free.
In addition, Laos provides tourist visas at embassies, consulates general, and consular offices of the Lao PDR in other countries, as well as at visa units located at 21 border crossings around the country. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK