Lao Tourism Sector in Trouble
The latest statistics from the Lao government showed that the number of tourists has fallen, from January to September this year (2107). However, they also showed that more Chinese travelers are visiting Laos.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Laos in the first nine months of 2017 dropped by 9.1% to just over 2.88 million people compared to the same period in 2016. The Chinese are the only nationality whose numbers have increased, according to data from the Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry (MOICT).
More than 429,000 Chinese visited Laos, an increase of 5% compared to the first nine months of 2016.
Lao authorities attribute the low tourist numbers to the global economic slowdown and uncertain situations in many parts of the world, namely the ongoing war against ISIS in the Middle East, the immigration crisis and disputes in other regions.
Deputy Director of the Tourism Research and Administration Division (MOICT), Bounthavy Sisava, said that the relative high cost of living in Laos could also be blamed for the decline in tourist arrivals.
The number of visitors from the Asia-Pacific region fell by 7% to just over 2.7 million compared to the first nine months of last year.
Holiday seekers from the ASEAN countries also dropped by 7%, to just over 2.1 million people.
Visitors from two other major regions — Europe and the USA — fell by 34% and 35% to 113,982 and 43,224 people respectively.
Laos has also witnessed a considerable drop in the number of high-end tourists from countries like South Korea, Japan, and Germany by 17%, 38% and 37%, respectively.
Thai nationals continued to dominate the Lao tourist market share. Although the number of Thais vacationing in Laos fell by 7% to just over 1.3 million people, Thais accounted for almost 48% of overall foreign tourist arrivals.
Foreign tourist arrivals for the whole of 2017 are expected to fall by 11.2 percent compared to 2016, following last year’s drop of 10 percent.
In an effort to bring in more tourists in the years to come, the Lao government has launched Visit Laos Year 2018 which officially began on the 28th of October, earlier this year.