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By Luc Loranhe (2007)
I travel to many countries. I am happy if they let me in without requesting an entrance fee at all, or, if they do, if the entrance fee (the charge for a visa) is as small as possible.
But actually, from the perspective of a Third World country, I advocate high visa fees. Of all possibilities to make money from foreign visitors, imposing high visa charges makes the most sense.
Governments of Third World countries should not listen to the owners of local hotels, travel agencies, and tour operators. Those are interested not in the overall welfare of a country but only in their own profits. Obviously, for a country's tourism industry, it is best if arriving foreigners incur as few expenses as possible before the country's tourism industry can start earning on them.
Let's assume a country has the choice between granting visa-free access or charging a 100 dollar visa fee.
It is very unlikely indeed that the government of a Third World country would generate more than the said 100 dollars in additional tax income per visitor, were they allowed visa-free access.
Visa fees are not what makes people decide against visiting certain countries. Extensive travel restrictions (like in Myanmar), or potential problems with a country's police (like in Indonesia or Vietnam) are much stronger deterrents.
I know enough people who would be willing to pay a visa charge of 100 or even 200 dollars for being allowed free travel in Myanmar, including entering and leaving via overland border crossings.
Likewise, there are enough Australians who would accept a visa charge of 100 dollars for an opportunity to party on Bali if they would not have to fear being jailed for years for the possession of a single pill of ecstasy.
High visa fees are the most direct way by which countries can benefit from foreign visitors, with minimal administrative efforts. I advocate that apart from that, Third World countries impose as few restrictions as possible on foreign visitors.
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Copyright Luc Loranhe