The total number of domestic and foreign tourists to Laos declined slightly in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year, but the number of Chinese visitors increased significantly.
More than one million people vacationed in Laos in the first three months of this year, a dip of about 0.5 per cent over last year, while the number of visitors from China increased by 16 per cent, according to the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
Officials expect more than one million Chinese – out of a total of 4.5 million people – to go to Laos during Visit Laos-China Year 2019.
Visitors from Thailand, who make up the bulk of Laos’ foreign tourists, dropped by nine per cent, Vietnamese visitors increased by 20 per cent, and the number coming from the Republic of Korea sank by 32 per cent.
An official in charge who asked not to be named told Vientiane Times he believed visitor numbers were down overall because people were unsure of the quality of tourism services in the country.
The cost of goods and accommodation in some popular provinces was considered to be expensive, although this was something the authorities could not control, he added.
Laos has many enticing tourism products but there are several annoyances, including poor road access to tourist sites, he said.
He attributed the drop in Thai visitors to that country’s own tourism campaign, with locals being encouraged to take holidays at home.
He believed the number of visitors from China and Vietnam had increased because Laos had advertised events for Visit Laos-China Year.
These countries share borders with Laos and many people there have been attracted by the tourism promotion and came to Laos to enjoy the colourful activities on offer this year.
To reach the government’s target of 4.5 million visitors during Visit Laos-China Year, the authorities have been advised to create Chinese language tourism pamphlets.
These pamphlets should include suggestions for culturally sensitive travel in Laos, including the do’s and don’ts when visiting temples and old palaces. Tour guides should also explain aspects of Lao culture to visitors, the official suggested. VIENTIANE TIMES/ANN