By Vientiane Times
Asia News Network
More than 2.2 million people visited Laos in the first six months of this year, up about 5 percent compared to last year, according to the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
An official in charge who asked not to be named told Vientiane Times he believed visitor numbers were up because of the ongoing Visit Laos-China Year campaign.
Visitors from China had increased by13 percent and Vietnamese visitors by 11 percent, although the number of visitors from Thailand, who make up the bulk of Laos’ foreign tourists, rose by only 1 percent.
In contrast, the number coming from the Republic of Korea sank by 20 percent and Japanese tourist arrivals were down by 13 percent.
The official said the decline in arrivals from some countries was due to circumstances beyond the authorities’ control. Some people stayed away because they were unsure of the quality of services here. And although Laos has many enticing tourism products there are several annoyances, such as poor road access to tourist sites.
Officials expect that more than 1 million Chinese out of an overall total of 4.5 million visitors will come to Laos during Visit Laos-China Year 2019.
To reach the government’s target of 4.5 million tourists, provinces have improved their services and created more visitor facilities.
They have also arranged various activities and upgraded tourist sites. Vangvieng district in Vientiane province has improved the quality of services and made changes to the price of food, accommodation and the fees charged at tourist attractions.
In Luang Prabang, restaurants have added Chinese dishes to their menus and signs written in Chinese have been installed at popular tourist sites.
In Luang Namtha province the authorities have improved services at the border crossing with China and are encouraging officials to supply useful information to Chinese visitors.
Xekong province has improved infrastructure, notably access to some of its scenic attractions. Laos has 670 hotels, 2,432 resorts and guesthouses, 2,646 restaurants and 305 entertainment venues, according to a 2018 statistics report from the Tourism Development Department. There are also 1,318 officially designated nature-based sites, 596 cultural attractions and 294 places of historical interest. Of these, 817 are operational, 1,040 are registered, and 590 are under development.
During Visit Laos Year 2018, at least 800,000 Chinese tourists visited Laos, an increase of 26 percent over the previous year. More than 4.1 million visitors came to Laos overall – an 8.2 percent increase compared to 2017.
By Siladda Souliyong
(Latest Update July 30, 2019)