Visitor Numbers From High-end, Target Countries Plummet

Source: Vientiane Times

The number of visitors to Laos from high-end and target countries declined significantly in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2018, a recent report reveals.

In the first three months of 2019, Laos attracted just 13,847 visitors from France, which was down about 9 percent compared to 2018. Visitor numbers from Switzerland dropped by 31 percent, while those from Sweden slumped by 40 percent and Belgian visitors declined by 9 percent.

The number of visitors from Canada decreased by 5 percent while those from the USA dropped by 12 percent, according to the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Visitors from Thailand declined by 9 percent, from Japan by 36 percent, from the Republic of Korea by 32 percent, and from New Zealand by 9 percent, while those from Australia decreased by 8 percent.

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An official in charge who asked not to be named told Vientiane Times he believed visitor numbers were down because people were unsure of the quality of tourism services here. 

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 said.

Laos has many enticing tourism products but there are several annoyances, including poor road access to tourist sites, he added.

He attributed the drop in Thai visitors to that country’s own tourism campaign, with locals being encouraged to take holidays at home.

To better promote tourism in Laos, the report underlined the need for the continued development of tourist attractions and infrastructure, and to diversify tourism activities and products.

The report suggests that the high cost of living in Laos, lack of direct flights to many target destinations or countries, delays at border crossings, and multiple checks along roads and at tourist sites have hampered the tourism promotion effort.

This year, officials expect that more than 1 million Chinese out of an overall total of 4.5 million people will come to Laos during Visit Laos-China Year 2019.To reach the government’s target of 4.5 million visitors during Visit Laos-China Year, the authorities have been advised to produce pamphlets written in Chinese.

These pamphlets should include suggestions for culturally sensitive travel in Laos, including the do’s and don’ts when visiting temples and other revered sites. Tour guides should also explain aspects of Lao culture to visitors.

The government and individuals should cooperate in providing good quality services so that visitors get a favourable impression of Laos, the official added.

The authorities should improve services, make changes to the price of goods and accommodation if necessary, and add facilities and interesting activities at tourist sites. Some provinces have created new tourist sites to add to the attractions on offer.

More than one million tourists visited Laos in the first three months of this year, down about 0.5 percent compared to the same period in 2018, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.