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Domestic tourists generate US$85 mn over six months: report

Over the first six months of this year, the number of domestic tourists was recorded at 756,338, generating more than US$85.42 million for the economy, according to a Statistical Report on Tourism.
The largest number of local travellers visited Khammuan province (161,092), followed by Savannakhet province (120,357), Luang Prabang (98,470) and Vientiane province (71,110). 
It was estimated that each tourist spent an average of US$45 a day, according to the report recently issued by the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

The government encourages more Lao nationals to travel around the country.--Photo Lao Economic Daily

In April alone, more than 174,860 Lao nationals made trips to different provinces and tourist attractions to celebrate the Lao New Year.  
When Laos closed its borders in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism industry was dealt a heavy blow as foreign tourists could no longer enter Laos because of travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus.
The travel restrictions coupled with border closures caused a sudden and dramatic drop in the number of foreign tourists, which fell by more than 80 percent in 2020 when compared to 2019.
To compensate for the loss in revenue from foreign tourists, the government has promoted domestic tourism through the “Lao-Visit-Laos” campaign in a bid to encourage more Lao nationals to travel around the country.
As a result, more than 1.58 million Lao citizens were recorded as holidaying within the country in 2020, spending more than US$122.74 million, according to the Tourism Development Department.
But the figure of travellers dropped to 828,592 in 2021, with the amount spent by them falling to about US$93.58 million.
“Tourism in Laos has been severely affected by the outbreak of Covid-19, which was reflected in tourist numbers and revenue, which dropped significantly in 2021 compared to 2020. The number of domestic tourists fell from 2.3 million in 2019 to 828,592 in 2021,” the report stated.
According to the Statistical Report on Tourism, the number of domestic tourists increased constantly from 2016 to 2018 but then started to drop in 2019.
In 2016, some 1.98 million Lao nationals made trips to destinations within the country. The figure rose to 2.23 million in 2017 and 2.8 million in 2018, before it dropped to 2.3 million in 2019, 1.58 million in 2020 and 828,592 in 2021.
From January to December 2021, the number of domestic tourists dropped by 47.6 percent compared to 2020. The provinces with the highest number of domestic tourists in 2021 were Khammuan, Oudomxay and Vientiane.
With the launch of the Laos-China Railway last December, an expressway running between Vientiane and Vangvieng, and the reopening of the country in May, both international and domestic tourists are now increasing in numbers, helping to revive the faltering economy in 2022.
Domestic tourism steadily improved after the government lifted all travel restrictions and authorised the reopening of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and tourist attractions.
However, with the current economic situation and rising prices, it is very challenged for many Lao people to spend more money on travel and boost local economies.

By Somsack Pongkhao
 (Latest Update September 2, 2022)


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