International tourist arrivals in Laos during the first six months of this year have dropped sixty percent compared to the same period last year.
Laos confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on 24 March, going into full lockdown on 30 March, with measures prohibiting residents from leaving their homes except for essential tasks. International and customary borders were closed, and interprovincial travel was
banned. Hotels and restaurants were authorized to continue operations, however, restrictions on travel forced most to close down temporarily or permanently.
Despite a lifting of certain lockdown measures and an initial victory declared over Covid-19 in June, the impact on the economy is expected to be disastrous, while unemployment has jumped to 25%.
The Vientiane Times quotes an internal report by the Department of Tourism Marketing, Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism as showing that international visitor numbers have fallen from 2,228,459 in January to June 2019, to just 886,447 in the first six months of this year.
According to the report, visitors from ASEAN member countries fell by 62%, with visitor numbers from Thailand falling by more than half.
Vietnamese arrivals dropped 60%, while the number of Chinese tourists dropped by 46%, and visitors from South Korea dropped 14%.
Lao Visits Laos
While the tourism industry in Laos has been affected by the loss of international arrivals, a domestic tourism campaign is beginning to take shape.
First announced informally late last year, the idea of promoting domestic tourism predates the Covid-19 pandemic, however, it has become all the more pertinent amid the current economic downturn.
“Industry leaders are likely to collaborate on special promotions, combining flights and accommodation or meals to attract tourists from within the country,” says Jason Rolan, Senior Partner at RDK Group, a marketing and consulting firm specializing in tourism.
While little has been confirmed in regard to the upcoming campaign except for its working title, “Lao Visits Laos,” it is believed that the campaign will bring together stakeholders from across the tourism and hospitality sector in a combined push to stimulate the sector.