Lao outbound travellers hit 3 million for 2016
Lao outbound travellers made more than 3.05 million trips in 2016 and more people are suggested to have made longer-distance trips in foreign countries, the latest statistics showed.
Though 2016's figure slightly decreased from more than 3.06 million trips and the 3.3 million trips recorded in 2015 and 2014 respectively, the number of Lao nationals travelling by planes increased to the highest level in 2016 compared to the previous years, according to statistics provided by the Tourism Development Department at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
Lao nationals traveling through Wattay International Airport climbed to 81,800 people in 2016, up from 81,064 people and 76,985 people in 2015 and 2014 respectively.
However, information regarding their spending and the length of their stay has not been collected due to funding shortages, according to the department.
Of 2016's outbound travellers, more than 1.46 million people representing about half of the total travelled abroad through the first Laos-Thailand Friendship Bridge's border gate.
The statistics, collected from 14 international checkpoints across the country, showed that those Lao provinces sharing borders with Thailand have registered the highest numbers in terms of people crossing their checkpoints when travelling abroad. However the statistics did not specify the destinations of the travellers.
Lao officials and tour operators have noted that the increasing incomes and wellbeing of the Lao people has enabled them to take vacations abroad.
Tour operators said package tours to South Korea, Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia, and Japan have been popular destinations for Lao outbound tourists.
An employee of Dynasty Travel International told Vientiane Times yesterday that the company these days is enjoying full booking for its package tours to these destinations, saying that this is the high season for the year.
“During this time of the year until Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year), Lao people like to take vacations in these countries,” said the employee, who did not want to be named.
“We sometimes have to organise additional packages.”
The company organises between one to two package trips to Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia per month, two to three package trips to South Korea and one a month to Japan. Each package trip could accommodate somewhere between 20-30 people.
A tour guide of Next Travel Lao Co., Ltd said he has noted an increase in the numbers of Lao customers booking package tours with the company in recent years to take vacations oversees.
Increasing income of the Lao people has enabled them to spend more including for their vacations.
The government's report showed that average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased to US$2,027 (more than 16.2 million kip) in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The figure is expected to rise further to US$2,341 (more than 18.7 million kip) by 2017.
GDP per capita is expected to reach US$3,100 (more than 24.8 million kip) in 2020 when the Lao population is expected to reach 7.3 million. This means Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is predicted to reach US$2,450 (more than 19.6 million kip), according to the report.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update March 15, 2017)