Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Visit Laos-China Year 2019 drives up number of tourists

Visit Laos-China Year 2019 drives up number of tourists

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Buddhist monks receive alms during a daily alms-giving ritual outside the Wat Mai temple in Luang Prabang, Laos. Manan VATSYAYANA/AFP

Visit Laos-China Year 2019 drives up number of tourists

The Visit Laos-China Year 2019 tourism promotion has proved successful in driving up visitor numbers, according to tourism officials.

More than 2.2 million people visited Laos in the first six months of this year, up about five per cent 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 by 13 per cent and Vietnamese visitors by 11 per cent, although the number of visitors from Thailand, who make up the bulk of Laos’ foreign tourists, rose by only one per cent.

In contrast, the number coming from South Korea sank by 20 per cent and Japanese tourist arrivals were down by 13 per cent.

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 one 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 per cent over the previous year. More than 4.1 million visitors came to Laos overall – an 8.2 per cent increase compared to 2017. VIENTIANE TIMES

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