Bolivia confirmed this week it will require visas for Unite States tourists beginning December 1, following through on a pledge to treat visiting US citizens much like they treat Bolivians entering the United States.
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said US citizens would now fall under Bolivia's most highly regulated migratory category. A 30-day tourist visa will cost 134 dollars, an amount similar to fees paid by Bolivian citizens applying to enter the US. US tourists now need only fill out a small form upon entering Bolivia, which grants them 30 days' stay with the chance to apply for up to 90 days. The new category requires proof of ''economic solvency,'' proof of hotel reservations for the entire planned visit or a notarized invitation from a Bolivian citizen, as well as a small passport photo taken against a ''red background,'' though Choquehuanca hinted the process might be simplified. "We are working so as to not hurt the flow of foreign tourists'' Choquehuanca said. US visitors "will be able to obtain a visa at the point of entry, either on the border or right there in the airport". The Bolivian Tourism Chamber says one in five tourists visiting Bolivia is from the United States, and US citizens spend an estimated 40 million dollars a year in South America's poorest country. Evo Morales, the first indigenous to be elected president, has called Bolivia's new policy "a matter of reciprocity". The US government requires Bolivians to obtain visas to enter the United States, charging 100 dollars for each visa plus a 14-dollar fee per family to begin the application process. "That's expensive for us, but it's cheap for them" Choquehuanca said. US ties to Bolivia have been tense since Morales took office last year. The United States is wary of Morales' friendship with Presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, while Morales has recently accused the US of using its aid to support his conservative opposition.