There is no dispute when stating that Chinese tourism in Laos has been on the rise.
In 2011, according to statistics from the ministry’s tourism sector, data showed that 150,791 Chinese tourists traveled to Laos. Since then, the figure has steadily increased, with almost 400,000 Chinese tourists passing through Lao borders just between January and September of 2016 alone.
After noticing the large number of Chinese tourists and boost in revenue to the economy, Laos has been actively pursuing more Chinese tourists to visit the country.
At a recent annual meeting of the information, culture and tourism sector, Vientiane Times quoted Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara as saying, “Laos should target more Chinese tourism because Chinese tourists are high-end customers and spend a lot.”
However, tourism operators and specialists say that Laos has areas of opportunities in the tourism market that they need to address to meet the demands of Chinese consumers. Opportunities such as transportation, services, and tourist sites all must be improved and held to a standard, while it is also crucial to address the problems that constantly cause frustration for visitors.
According to the Vientiane Times article, Xanglao Travel Director Vilaysone Louangaphay (the man behind the famous hop-on, hop-off tourist bus) has stated, that in order to fully welcome large numbers of Chinese people, the tourism sector needs to study their requirements. Service standards have much room for improvement; stressing that restaurants, hospitality facilities and transport operators must invoke trust with their guests.
Oudomxay authorities had met with related sectors in three northern provinces that share borders with China, those being Luang Namtha, Bokeo and Phongsaly, to seek consensus in solving issues that impact the tourism climate, says Director of the Information, Culture and Tourism Department in northern Oudomxay Province Phonsavanh Phanthavichit.
Oudomxay officials have held discussions with their Chinese counterparts on how to influence Chinese companies to invest in various sectors in the province, including tourism.
Phonsavanh said the department will continue to work with businesses in hospitality, tourist site operators, and restaurant owners to upgrade their services and infrastructure to accommodate visitors.
The official also states that Chinese people are interested in Lao culture and the lifestyle of ethnic groups, so these areas should be highlighted as part of Laos’ sales pitch.
China is one five nations neighboring the land-locked country, with the others being Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.