Laos’ Tourism growth slows

The number of visitors visiting Laos rose to 1.78 million, by 17 percent, over the past six months compared to the same period last year. Tourism statistics were on the agenda yesterday at a meeting in Vientiane to review the activities implemented as part of Visit Laos Year 2012 to promote tourism in the country.

This is the second time the Lao government has organised a campaign to promote tourism; the first was in 1999. Because the tourism sector has been prioritised by the government since 1990 as an important area of national socio-economic development, it has consistently grown an average of 20 percent per year following the first promotional campaign.

In the last 2-3 years, tourism growth has slowed due to the economic downturn in Europe and North America as well as natural disasters such as the tsunami in Japan and instability in neighbouring countries. These have resulted in fewer high-end tourists visiting Laos.

For this year’s tourism campaign, the government has organised a number of activities relating to national events, traditions, customs and festivities of local communities in provinces throughout the country. Improvement of tourism facilities and services has also been accomplished. This includes better service at hotels and guesthouses, upgraded facilities at tourism sites, infrastructure improvement, community-based tourism development, tourism training, improved regulations, better transportation and agreeable cooperation between the public and business sectors.

Regarding the promotion campaign, the government is targeting 3.4 million tourist arrivals this year and hopes to raise US$452 million from the tourism sector. To meet this target and to ensure continued growth in the future, the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for guiding cultural and social work and Chairman of the National Organising Committee for Visit Laos Year, Mr Asang Laoly, has urged committee members and relevant officials to further the Party and government renovation policy as well as contribute to national development in this sector. He stressed that it is important for people to understand the value of tourism development and promotion in Laos.

He emphasised that d evelopment of human resources in the tourism sector is of strategic importance for national socio-economic development and promoting the nation to the rest of the world. Mr Asang also encouraged the development of tourism-related products such as food, consumer goods, and souvenirs.

Source: Vientiane Times