Laos will have to work harder to attract high-end tourists after decreasing arrivals from major sources Europe and Japan impacted the luxury end of the sector in 2014.
Arrivals from Europe and Japan declined in 2014 after consecutive increases over the previous four previous years from 2010, according to statistics released recently by the Tourism Research and Administrative Division under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
The number of tourists from Europe travelling to Laos dropped slightly from 212,566 in 2013 to 209,331 visitors in 2014, a decrease of two percent.
Meanwhile, tourist arrivals from Japan fell from 48,644 in 2013 to 44,877 visitors in 2014, a drop of 8 percent.
The drops come despite overall tourist arrivals increasing by 10 percent, including a 72 percent increase among visitors from China.
Foreign tourist arrivals to Laos in 2014 reached an excess of 4.15 million, an increase of about 10 percent on 2013 where 3.75 million visits were recorded.
Deputy Director of the Tourism Research and Administrative Division, Mr Bounthavy Sisava said analysis had not yet been carried out to ascertain the reasons behind the drop in arrivals from Europe and Japan.
“We have a plan to carry out such an analysis,” he said, adding that budget support was being sought for this purpose.
Another source of high end tourism is the Americas. Tourist arrivals from the region, including Canada, US and Latin America, went from 85,899 in 2013 to 86,027 visitors in 2014, an increase of 0.15 percent.
While Laos witnessed drops in tourist arrivals from 18 foreign countries and regions, it was more than offset by increases from 20 others.
In general, Laos has registered continuous growth in numbers of tourist arrivals in the country over recent years.
However, the duration of stay remains tantalisingly short at an average of eight days.
To maximise the benefit from the tourism sector, the Lao government is striving to have foreign visitors prolong their stay as well as doing more to welcome high-end tourists.
Lao Association of Travel Agents Vice President, Mr Saleum Khamphenvong said recently that most high-end tourists continued to come from America, Europe and Japan.
He said with overall tourist arrivals from the latter down in 2014, those operators targeting the luxury end of the market were taking a hit.
The last drops in both European and Japanese tourist arrivals to Laos both occurred in 2009, after the 2008 global financial-crisis and economic recession dented consumer spending.
European tourist numbers dropped from 168,756 in 2008 to 130,176 visitors in 2009, while Japanese tourists arrivals decreased from 31,569 to 28,081 over the same period.
Tourists from Asean member countries increased from more than 3.04 million in 2013 to 3.22 million visitors in 2014, while tourists from non-Asean states increased by 46 percent to 630,361 people in 2014.
Tourists from Africa and the Middle East increased by 13 percent to 8,920 visitors in 2014.
Source: Vientiane Times