Over 500,000 Chinese Tourists Visited Laos In 2015

16 MARCH 2013 - ALONG HIGHWAY 13, LAOS: Chinese tourists at a scenic overlook between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, Laos on Highway 13. The paving of Highway 13 from Vientiane to near the Chinese border has changed the way of life in rural Laos. Villagers near Luang Prabang used to have to take unreliable boats that took three hours round trip to get from the homes to the tourist center of Luang Prabang, now they take a 40 minute round trip bus ride. North of Luang Prabang, paving the highway has been an opportunity for China to use Laos as a transshipping point. Chinese merchandise now goes through Laos to Thailand where it's put on Thai trains and taken to the deep water port east of Bangkok. The Chinese have also expanded their economic empire into Laos. Chinese hotels and businesses are common in northern Laos and in some cities, like Oudomxay, are now up to 40% percent. As the roads are paved, more people move away from their traditional homes in the mountains of Laos and crowd the side of the road living off tourists' and truck drivers. PHOTO BY JACK KURTZ

Laos remains a favorite tourist destination for many people of neighboring countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.

On June 14, during a forum held in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China on Cross Border Tourism Cooperation, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara highlighted several of the factors that make Laos such an attractive tourist destination.

The forum took place during the 4th China-South Asia Exposition and the 24th China Kunming Import and Export Commodities Fair under the theme of “Promoting amity, sincerity, mutual benefits, and inclusiveness for win-win cooperation”

He said that during the past several years, the tourism sector of the Lao PDR has enjoyed consistent and impressive growth.  The country had 4.6 million international arrivals in 2015, a 13 per cent increase over the previous year.  Most visitors came from neighboring countries and Chinese tourists made up the lion’s share with 422,440 visitors in 2014 and 511,436 in 2015.  The numbers continue to increase significantly year after year.

One of the reasons that the Lao PDR remains a favorite for Chinese tourists is that Laos and China share 2 international border checkpoints and 6 local checkpoints which ease and facilitate the flow of visitors between the two countries.

The Lao PDR has 4 friendship bridges connecting to neighboring countries and some excellent roads linking to China.  Hence, it is considered a transit hub for goods/cargo transportation services between China and several ASEAN countries because of the ease with which people can travel to and from.

More importantly, ground has already been broken on the high-speed Kunming-Singapore Railway Project which will make travel even easier and more comfortable for tourists.  This project is expected to contribute to increases in tourism in several ASEAN member states as well as attract additional investments.

In the field of cross border tourism cooperation, the Lao PDR actively participates in several activities hosted by China including a series of International Tourism Exhibition Expos and Fairs where participating countries have the opportunity to promote their own uniqueness and rich cultural traditions.  The objectives of these fairs and expos are to expand and collaborate within the tourism industry to ensure that mutual benefits are achieved and shared in not only this region, but across the world.

It is also impressive to note that the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Lao PDR and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) are in process of preparing to sign an MOU on standards of quality to attract tourists.

In the light of the above, I strongly believe that this cooperative platform will contribute to enhancing and improving the tourism sectors in ASEAN member states.  Work will continue to be done to bring the quality of tourism services to international standards.

The Lao PDR strongly values guidance and cooperation that China continues to demonstrate through various frameworks including CLMV, ACMECS, ASEAN and even bilaterally.

Source: KPL