Tourist arrivals on track to hit target for 2019

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The number of domestic and foreign tourists holidaying in Laos during the first nine months of this year increased compared to the same period last year, while visitor numbers from some countries that had slowed in recent years were also up.

More than 3.4 million people vacationed in Laos in the first nine months of this year, an increase of about 11 percent compared to last year, while the number of visitors from China soared by 26 percent, according to the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Visitors from Thailand – the main source of Laos’ tourists – rose by 6 percent while Vietnamese visitors increased by 11 percent.

Tourist arrivals from many high-end countries also increased, with the number coming from the USA rising by 22 percent, while visitors from the United Kingdom also increased by 22 percent. The number of French visitors rose by 11 percent while German tourists increased by 13 percent.

In comparison, visitor numbers from the Republic of Korea dropped by 1 percent, the number from Denmark fell by 27 percent, Swiss visitors declined by 18 percent, and the number from Finland plummeted by 28 percent.

Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Soun Manivong, told Vientiane Times visitor numbers had increased because of the Visit Laos-China Year tourism promotion.

Publicity was also racheted up in media outlets in Laos and other countries in a bid to attract more visitors, he added.

Officials are confident that more than 1 million Chinese out of an overall total of 4.5 million visitors will come to Laos during Visit Laos-China Year 2019 as the next three months are the high tourist season, Mr Soun said.

Although many tourist attractions are located in provinces that were affected by floods last month, this has not had an impact on the visitor target figure and officials are looking at ways to rehabilitate flood-hit areas, he added.

To achieve the government’s target of 4.5 million visitors in 2019, provinces across the country have created more tourist attractions, improved signage, and made adjustments to the price of accommodation following complaints about high costs.

Some provinces are improving the quality of souvenirs by making them more colourful and providing information about their significance on the packaging.

The authorities have also improved services at border crossings and trained officials to provide information to foreign visitors.

Laos has 670 hotels, 2,432 guesthouses and resorts, 2,646 restaurants and 305 entertainment venues, according to the Tourism Development Department.

There are numerous officially designated tourist attractions including 1,318 nature based sites, 596 places of cultural interest, and 294 places of historical significance.

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