One of Laos’s most iconic tourist towns, Vang Vieng, has witnessed a decrease in the number of visitors in recent weeks amid concerns about Covid-19.
Head of the Vang Vieng’s Information, Culture and Tourism Office, Mr. Bounmy Phommavongsa, said the number of tourists was down, notably Chinese and Korean tourists.
Some visitors have canceled tours as well as accommodation bookings, while some employees in the city are taking a break from work amid the fall in visitors, he told Vientiane Times.
“The government had hoped to draw 1.2 million Chinese tourists to Laos this year but may have to lower expectations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which is severely limiting tourist travel,” the paper noted.
China’s ministry of transport said that 73 percent fewer trips were taken by Chinese tourists over the lunar new year holiday in 2020 compared with 2019.
Meanwhile, Vientiane Times also warned that the total overall number of visitors may fall this year as people may be reluctant to come to Laos due to its proximity to China.
Laos is not alone; tourist hotspots closest to China have been hit particularly hard.
In Thailand, for instance, the tourism authorities expect that the number of Chinese tourists in the country will decline to 9 million in 2020 from 11 million from the previous year.
Tourism accounts for about 20 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product, with Chinese visitors making up a quarter of trips to the country, indicating that the drop in Chinese tourists would have a negative impact on the national economy.