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Govt. Outlines Actions to Bolster Fragile Economy, Address Rising Crime

Source: Vientiane Times

The government cabinet has instructed state bodies to work with tour and service operators in preparation for Visit Laos Year 2024, in a bid to revitalise the tourism industry and boost the economy.

In its monthly meeting for May, the cabinet told state departments to hold talks with tourism business operators and to share ideas and activities to be organized during Visit Laos Year 2024.

Chaired by Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, the one-day meeting called for action to address barriers currently hindering progress in the tourism industry, which is a key economic driver and a major earner of foreign currency for Laos.

In 2019 and prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, international tourist arrivals to Laos increased by 14.4 percent, reaching a record 4.79 million.
Revenue generated by foreign tourists was estimated at US$934 million or close to 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Some 54,000 people, or about 1.4 percent of the total workforce, were employed in the tourism and hospitality sector with more than 60 percent being women.

The government hopes that Visit Laos Year 2024 will be a big boost to the post-pandemic recovery of the tourism industry and bolster Laos’ fragile economy amid global upheavals.

Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Mr. Khom Douangchantha, told the Vientiane Times recently that Visit Laos Year 2024 will be more widely promoted than previous tourism campaigns.

In addition to tourism, the cabinet meeting instructed state departments to ensure that state revenue collection is maximized to enable the government to meet its spending needs.

The cabinet stressed the need to fulfill its debt service obligations to both domestic and foreign creditors after pledging that Laos will not slide into default.

Amid the weakening kip vis-a-vis the US dollar and Thai baht (the foreign currencies commonly accepted in Laos), the meeting called on the relevant bodies to consider measures to manage and stabilize exchange rates along with revising a Prime Ministerial Order on the appropriate management of foreign currencies.

The revised Order is expected to be promulgated soon.

Meanwhile, the cabinet told authorities in charge to closely monitor the export of minerals, notably rare earth minerals, in order to plug loopholes that enable personal gain.

Meeting attendees were also told to do more to address the rising crime rate, including robbery, the drug trade, and human trafficking.

Noting the increasing number of resignations among volunteer teachers in rural communities and the rising number of school dropouts, the cabinet instructed the authorities concerned to identify measures to address the problem.

Participants also endorsed a draft strategy on minerals for 2021-2030 and a vision on minerals until 2035.