While the government has set a goal of attracting 5.2 million tourists with projected revenues of approximately US$910 million, the National Economic Research Institute (NERI) shares a slightly more cautious view.
NERI believes that limited promotional advertising for the campaign, a relatively high cost of general services and living costs, and lack of tourism products all combine to prevent Laos from reaching its ambitious goal. Additionally, lack of infrastructure, tourism site accessibility, lack of tourist activities and safe transport services all work against the country’s efforts.
Last year, the number of foreign tourists who visited Laos dropped 8.7% compared to 2016. Visitors from Europe decreased 27 percent, 2 percent for Korea and 11 percent for Thai, NERI reported.
Meanwhile, the tourism sector in the region, especially Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia have been experiencing tremendous growth. NERI has recommended that the government prioritize and promote Visit Laos Year throughout the country and globally.
In the past few months, the government in cooperation with a variety government bodies and commercial businesses, has promoted activities associated with Visit Laos Year through public media. Local authorities have also organized cultural festivals and traditional activities to promote tourism and attract visitors, as well as awareness among Lao people to help to promote national culture and traditions.
Relevant departments have advised traders, public and private transport providers and service entrepreneurs around the country to offer good service at fair prices to tourists when they visit Laos. The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MOICT) has also invested billions of kip to cooperate with CNN media to promote activities within the country, according to an official from the Tourism Marketing Department.
On a more positive note, the government expects the service sector to grow by 6.4%, covering 41.83% of GDP this year. Services is one of the main sectors driving economic growth and is expected to grow by 8.5%, with the number of tourists expected to increase by 6%, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. MOICT reported that during 2016, Laos earned US$724 million from tourist arrivals, a slight reduction from US$725 million in revenue in 2015.