The town of Luang Prabang, which is renowned for Unesco’s listing of its old quarter as a world heritage site, has seen 90 per cent of room reservations made by Thai visitors since Laos lifted all entry restrictions in May.
President of the Luang Prabang Hotel and Guesthouse Association, Toun Sisouphanthavong, said hotels and guesthouses have been almost fully booked due to the large number of Thai visitors coming to Luang Prabang since the government lifted travel restrictions after the Covid-19 outbreak subsided.
However, fewer people are arriving from Europe, the Republic of Korea, China and other countries because travel is still difficult and people are dealing with an economic downturn.
This week, the city is hosting a boat festival to celebrate the start of Buddhist Lent, in a bid to attract both Lao and foreign visitors.
Since the Laos-China Railway became operational, more people from Thailand and other countries have come to Laos to experience a new mode of travel through the country.
There are also more flights coming into Laos, easing air travel and bringing in more tourists.
However, Toun urged Laos-China Railway authorities to set up an online booking system, as this would make it much easier for people to plan their travels in Laos.
One problem is that many people, as well as tour groups, have booked hotel rooms but are unable to get to Luang Prabang because they can’t get a train ticket to travel as soon as they arrive in Laos.
Toun said it should be possible to buy a seat on a train more than two days in advance of travel, as is currently the case.
The Luang Prabang Tourism Department said more than 67,000 domestic visitors visited the town in the first three months of this year, an increase of 74 per cent compared to the same period last year.
In anticipation of an influx of visitors following the lifting of travel restrictions, tourism operators have refurbished or upgraded several popular tourist attractions, while the services provided by hospitality staff have been improved.
Luang Prabang is one of the most well-known provinces in Laos and is a top tourist draw because of its old temples, scenic attractions and rural landscapes.
The city recently received a second Asean Clean Tourism Standard award following an assessment of compliance with Asean tourism standards. It was judged to have achieved almost 93 per cent of the criteria set under Asean clean tourism standards.
Tad Kuang Xi waterfall in Luang Prabang province also received an Asean Sustainable Tourism Award in January.