The international terminal of the airport serving the Laotian capital of Vientiane, Wattay International Airport, can now accommodate as many as 2.3 million foreign travelers a year, roughly nine times the original terminal’s capacity. An opening ceremony at the airport on August 9 marked the debut of the new facility which is twice as big as the original, bringing its size to 25,000 square meters.
The airport also tore down its aging domestic terminal and built a new two-story structure with 7,000 square meters of space.
Japan covered most of the cost through assistance worth around $80 million The projects cost the equivalent of roughly 9.7 billion yen ($87.4 million), with some nine billion yen of that covered by a yen loan backed by the Japanese government.
It comes at a time when Laos is increasing its economic ties with China. A Japanese company jointly formed by Japanese aviation services provider Jalux and trading house Toyota Tsusho will continue to manage the terminal for another ten years in tandem with a local state-run enterprise.
The expansion comes as tourists are just trickling into Laos despite the Visit Laos Year 2018 promotional campaign. The Lao government is not so confident in achieving its target of attracting five million tourists to Laos in 2018 as a mid-year summary had shown that less than two million had visited the country so far this year. A new e-visa, planned for 2019, could possibly help.
The government of Laos expects the number of people arriving in the country on international flights to reach 1.51 million by 2023.