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More Restaurants Resume Services, Some Remain Closed

Source: Vientiane Times

Several restaurants in Vientiane and tourist destinations across Laos continue to be closed after suspending operations several months ago due to the Covid-19 crisis, and some operators are now seeking new ways to earn a living.

Last week, a number of restaurants in Vientiane resumed their operations after the government eased key restrictions and measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

President of the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association, Mr Pakasith Chanthapanya, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that many restaurants have currently resumed their operations but some restaurant owners are turning their focus to the agricultural sector.

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“Obviously, some business people with sufficient capital have opened their restaurants, while people with limited funds will permanently shut down their operations,” he said, adding that the overall business climate is gradually returning to normal.

He said entrepreneurs engaged in running restaurants were in an unpleasant situation, like their counterparts in related sectors such as tourism and accommodation services.

“When the tourism industry is now solely dependent on domestic visitors, the businesses can only just survive, and it looks like this pandemic may take at least two to three years to be brought under control,” Mr Pakasith said.

Many restaurants and hotels in Vientiane are currently open, while some three and four star-hotels are in a critical situation because they are heavily dependent on foreign clients.

Several restaurants, cafeterias and bars along the Mekong riverfront have resumed operations, along with the main walking streets in the capital.

However, restaurant operators say they will be able to earn enough only during the weekend.

The owner of Sweethouse, a Vientiane-based restaurant, Ms Vilayvanh Phommady, said she will be able to earn good revenues from the outlet only after some more restrictions are lifted and her regular customers return to buy food and smoothies.

“Our cafeteria has resumed operations since the government loosened the Covid-19-related restrictions but our customers prefer to take away the food rather than eating here,” she said.

In order to boost the business climate amid the pandemic, the government is working with the private sector to find solutions, especially ways to reduce income tax, electricity and water bills, and other related matters.