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Hospitality operators fear Covid impact: survey

Hospitality operators are concerned about the ongoing health crisis after the Covid-19 pandemic forced many hotels and restaurants to close, a survey conducted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has revealed.
The survey involved in-depth interviews and response analysis. The operators of 60 hotels and resorts, 45 guesthouses and 15 restaurants were interviewed for the survey, which took place from October to December 2021 in Vientiane, Vientiane province and Luang Prabang province.
The findings revealed that 57.14 percent of those running guesthouses were concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their business, more so than the operators of hotels, resorts and restaurants.

This was attributed to the fact that guesthouses do not offer the full range of services provided by hotels.
In the survey, 53.33 percent of large hotel respondents and 40 percent of those owning medium-sized hotels and resorts said they were concerned about the uncertainty of the situation, as it is unclear when the Covid outbreak will subside.
Medium-sized hotels and resorts are more flexible and better placed to adapt to changes, with many Lao people booking rooms in these places in the absence of foreign tourists.
The pandemic resulted in a drop in earnings by hotels of 55.6 percent, while restaurant earnings plummetted by 80 percent, the survey found.
The reason for the sharp drop-off in restaurant earnings was that many people are reluctant to eat out, fearing that they will contract the virus.
Many restaurant owners are struggling to make a profit as they have to pay electricity and water bills, as well as rent in many cases.
Over the past two years, the pandemic has devasted the Lao economy, with hospitality feeling the brunt of the drop-off in spending.
The pandemic, and most recently the emergence of the Omicron variant, has made tourists cautious about travelling to other countries.
The virus outbreak has not only caused a sharp drop in national earnings from tourism but has severely impacted hotels, guesthouses and restaurants.
Although the Lao Thiao Lao (Lao Visit Laos) tourism initiative has been widely promoted to encourage more Lao people to travel, domestic tourism has not come close to making up for the loss of foreign visitors.
In the early stages of the pandemic, many hotels and restaurants in areas that are heavily dependent on tourist spending, such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Vangvieng, suffered an immediate drop in income.
In Laos, tourism had been on the upswing before the pandemic hit. International tourist arrivals touched 4.1 million in 2018, contributing 12 percent of the country’s GDP. About 42,000 people, 62 percent of them women, were employed in tourism before the pandemic hit. But international visitor arrivals dropped by 82 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, while domestic tourism remains constrained by Covid-19-related travel restrictions and reduced economic activity, according to the Asian Development Bank.

By Somsack Pongkhao
 (Latest Update January 17, 2022)

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