A sudden influx of international visitors to the tourist town of Vang Vieng has seen food and accommodation prices skyrocket, with many calling for government intervention.
Vang Vieng has faced criticism for raising prices as individual tourists and group tours, many from neighboring Thailand, flock to the town. The boom in tourism has provided much-needed income for the economy, but has also become an opportunity for price gouging among unscrupulous tourism businesses.
This is not the first time the issue has been raised. The problem of unfair pricing has been brought up in the past when the small town in Vientiane Province received an influx of visitors. Vendors have been accused of taking advantage of the fluctuating exchange rate between the Lao kip and the Thai baht, overcharging unwitting visitors.
Local residents have taken to social media to raise the issue, with some saying that room rates in the town have tripled, while the cost of food and drink in some eateries increasing by 400 percent.
Many Lao people, aware of the precarious economic situation in Laos, see the influx of international tourism as a potential solution to the country’s economic problems. Tourists bring much-needed foreign currency which the country can use to build its reserves and ensure it has enough funds to purchase fuel and other commodities. Meanwhile, many domestic tourists are choosing to travel internationally now that borders are open.