Diwali is one of the most popular Indian festivals which is celebrated across the country and among the South Asian community globally. An incumbent holiday is always a reason to plan one’s next vacation and most people are already thinking of ways they could best utilize the upcoming long weekend.
This year Diwali falls on October 24 (Monday) and Indians are eyeing that one quick getaway either locally or to foreign destinations which are located nearby. Travel+Leisure India recently published an article on this topic and Lao neighbors Vietnam and Thailand both made it to the list.
One of the reasons Laos didn’t feature on this list is because there is no direct flight Indians can book to visit the country. Most travel options include layovers for several hours in Bangkok which can be quite time-consuming for people planning a short trip. Although Laos offers visa-on-arrival to Indian citizens, the long travel potentially discourages many tourists from availing this option.
Before COVID-19 around 200,000 Indians had visited Vietnam in 2019 and with the resuming of direct flights the country is waiting to welcome more people this year. Compared to this, Laos saw the arrival of only 8,152 Indian tourists in the same year, according to a report by Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
Thailand is also a long-time favorite for for Indian tourists thanks to its pristine beaches and easy accessibility. Just this year, 337,282 Indian tourists arrived in Thailand until July, including an average of 4,000 per day since 1 July when Thailand fully reopened its borders. The Thai-Indian Wedding Association (TWA) also said that it expects Thailand to host around 400 Indian weddings, leading to a footfall of around 500,000 people by the end of the year.
In 2019, Chinese tourists formed a majority of international travelers visiting Laos, but with the country’s zero-Covid policy in place, Laos needs to look at other sources to fill in the gap. To attract Indian tourists with considerable spending power, Laos needs to not just focus on flights, but also work on strengthening its public transport system and infrastructures within the country. It needs to market itself and highlight its popular destinations to potential travelers because a steady volume of Indian tourists can definitely help in reviving the tourism sector.
As an Indian lawyer who recently relocated here for work says, “Right now most Indians might not be able to even locate Laos on a map. The country needs to make a concerted effort to brand and promote itself in a way that it appeals to everyone from backpackers to luxury travelers.”