Bounce back for Lao travellers headed to Malaysia
Lao travellers visiting Malaysia are expected to increase more than 30 percent this year after data shows positive feedback from arrivals last year.
Marketing Manager of Tourism Malaysia in Laos, Ms Sordaly Chanthavong reported recently that Lao travellers had sprung back unexpectedly by 27 percent last year after the number of arrivals had decreased by almost 50 percent in 2015.
Ms Sordaly believes the driving force behind the return to Malaysia is that Lao travel agents have been creating more exciting and attractive packages through travel made easier by companies like AirAsia.
Ms Sordaly expects the number of Lao visitors to Malaysia will continue this year, adding that their target has been set at 45,000 this year.
Tour agencies in Laos have now created new packages that see their customers not only travelling to Malaysia but connecting to destinations such as Singapore and Indonesia.
AirAsia has now opened four direct flights a week from the designated World Heritage town of Luang Prabang to Malaysia and three direct flights a week from Vientiane to Kuala Lumpur.
These are some of the many reasons behind the increase of Lao travellers returning to visit Malaysia.
Last year, Lao travellers to Malaysia were numbered at 30,061 while Malaysian arrivals to Laos also increased from 16,976 to 17,340 as compared to 2015.
At present, the newest trend sees Lao travellers intending to visit the Republic of Korea, which are similar figures to 2010-2012 when tours to Malaysia were booming with Lao clients.
Ms Sordaly said however that it was a good sign to see Lao outbound travellers returning to Malaysia as a result of some Lao tour agents improving their offered programmes to destinations both old and new.
For instance, tours would often offer the same activities in Malaysia including visiting Singapore but have now expanded to connect with stops in Indonesia, she says.
A representative of Lao tour agencies said that Tourism Malaysia has also continued to talk to representatives of tour agencies in Laos to promote their attractions, shopping, and festivals, and really have encouraged joining with Malaysian tour companies to create tour packages together.
This will be an important part in driving tourism industry growth between Laos and Malaysia, they added.
According to statistics provided by the Tourism Development Department at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism Lao, outbound travellers made more than 3.05 million trips in 2016 while more have suggested to have made longer-distance trips to foreign countries.
Foreign nationals visiting Laos reached 4.1 million in 2016, falling slightly from the government's target expecting some 4.7 million.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update March 31, 2017)