Tourism in Luang Prabang Takes a Hit Due to Air Pollution

Foreign Tourists Cancel Trip to Luang Prabang as PM 2.5 Erupts
Luang Prabang engulfed with PM 2.5 dust at night (photo: Evensong Film)

Tourists are canceling hotel reservations in Luang Prabang citing health concerns over hazardous PM2.5 levels reported this week.

Air Quality Index (AQI) levels in the town have been around 500 due to crop burning and slash-and-burn agriculture that is prevalent in the region during the dry season.

Mr. Henri-Pierre Leveillard, the general manager of the Sanctuary Hotel Luang Prabang told the Laotian Times over a phone call that some elderly tourists have recently canceled or shortened their stay at the hotel.

“We had guests aged around 60-70 years who were supposed to stay for five days, but two days after arrival, they cut short their trip and went to Thailand,” said Mr. Leveillard.

“They left because they could not breathe properly and were not able to enjoy the scenery of Luang Prabang,” he added.

According to Mr. Leveillard, guests are leaving the hotel because there are no air purifiers in their rooms to cope with the outside pollution. He also expressed concern that guests with upcoming reservations might cancel as well.

“I have a group of 20 checking in today and another checking in tomorrow. They are French people aged between 65-70. Well, let’s just say I’m a little worried,” he added.

He noted that he would permit guests to reschedule when the situation improves since he is concerned that some guests who have made reservations through OTA could complain about losing their money.

Mr. Damian Killer, co-owner of the Belle Rive Boutique Hotel Luang Prabang, said that while he hasn’t seen many cancellations at his hotel, he’s heard that other hotels in town have been affected by them.

“I’ve heard from other hoteliers here in town that they’ve faced cancellations due to the bad air quality. People read about it in the newspapers or see it on social media, and then probably change their travel plans,” Mr. Killer said.

“There’s a high possibility that everyone who sees images of Luang Prabang’s current condition will eventually consider not coming,” he added.

He also shared his own experience flying into Luang Prabang last week and how travelers on the entire plane were concerned about the lack of visibility due to the pollution.

Mr. Saengmany Chaila, CEO of Luang Prabang View Hotel, however, said that he hasn’t received any cancellations yet, but confirms that the pollution has affected the health of residents in the region and also the tourism sector.

He expressed his disappointment that Luang Prabang officials haven’t come up with measures to reduce the pollution and called for the provincial government to try and resolve the situation soon.

“Authorities have released official plans and schedules for the Lao New Year but they should try and tackle this problem first so that it doesn’t affect tourism in the region around that time,” he said.