Laos quietly introduced new tourist tax on Oct. 1

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Buddha Park outside Vientiane, a draw for many visitors to Laos © Arno Maierbrugger

The Lao government eventually without much fanfare introduced a tourist tax – which was in the planning since 2010 – on October 1, 2018. From that day, foreign visitors to the country are now slapped with a $1-fee as a tourist tax at all entry points.

The government justifies the tourist tax by saying it will be used to fund tourism development and conservation of historical sites while supporting the country’s budget for flood disaster recovery efforts, as well as for unidentified infrastructure investment.

The Laotian Times broke the news on the new tax on September 29, reporting that all foreign passport holders, including those who have residency permits, would have to pay the $1-tax, while border pass holders – local residents crossing the border from Vietnam and Thailand to Laos on day-trips – are likely exempt from the dollar tax although this has not made been entirely clear yet.

There has been no clarification on whether travelers can pay the fee with other currencies or those arriving by air would have it included in the ticket price.

Based on tourist arrivals in Laos in 2017 that reached 3.8 million, the $1-tax would raise a respectable treasure chest to support tourism development.

The tax was first proposed by the Laos Tourism Marketing Board back in 2010 as a $2-fee. But tourism agencies complained that there were already too many fees which could deter tourists from coming to the country, and they said they would rather prefer to see the Laotian visa and travel tax processes simplified, streamlined and made transparent. Having too many small locally administered taxes would also create opportunities for corruption, they argued.

There are now five different taxes or fees for tourists in Laos, beginning with a visa-on-arrival fee of $30 to $45, depending on the nationality of a visitor. This fee goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, while an overstay fee of $1 or $2 per day goes to the customs department and provincial authorities. Another “marketing fee” of $2 to $5 goes to the Laos National Tourism Administration, and this latest tax is collected by the Laos Tourism Marketing Board.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Buddha Park outside Vientiane, a draw for many visitors to Laos © Arno Maierbrugger

The Lao government eventually without much fanfare introduced a tourist tax – which was in the planning since 2010 – on October 1, 2018. From that day, foreign visitors to the country are now slapped with a $1-fee as a tourist tax at all entry points.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Buddha Park outside Vientiane, a draw for many visitors to Laos © Arno Maierbrugger

The Lao government eventually without much fanfare introduced a tourist tax – which was in the planning since 2010 – on October 1, 2018. From that day, foreign visitors to the country are now slapped with a $1-fee as a tourist tax at all entry points.

The government justifies the tourist tax by saying it will be used to fund tourism development and conservation of historical sites while supporting the country’s budget for flood disaster recovery efforts, as well as for unidentified infrastructure investment.

The Laotian Times broke the news on the new tax on September 29, reporting that all foreign passport holders, including those who have residency permits, would have to pay the $1-tax, while border pass holders – local residents crossing the border from Vietnam and Thailand to Laos on day-trips – are likely exempt from the dollar tax although this has not made been entirely clear yet.

There has been no clarification on whether travelers can pay the fee with other currencies or those arriving by air would have it included in the ticket price.

Based on tourist arrivals in Laos in 2017 that reached 3.8 million, the $1-tax would raise a respectable treasure chest to support tourism development.

The tax was first proposed by the Laos Tourism Marketing Board back in 2010 as a $2-fee. But tourism agencies complained that there were already too many fees which could deter tourists from coming to the country, and they said they would rather prefer to see the Laotian visa and travel tax processes simplified, streamlined and made transparent. Having too many small locally administered taxes would also create opportunities for corruption, they argued.

There are now five different taxes or fees for tourists in Laos, beginning with a visa-on-arrival fee of $30 to $45, depending on the nationality of a visitor. This fee goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, while an overstay fee of $1 or $2 per day goes to the customs department and provincial authorities. Another “marketing fee” of $2 to $5 goes to the Laos National Tourism Administration, and this latest tax is collected by the Laos Tourism Marketing Board.

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