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International visitor arrivals to Laos plunge by 60 percent

International tourist arrivals to Laos in the first six months of this year were down 60 percent compared to the same period last year due to the closure of border checkpoints to prevent the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to a report by the Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, international visitor arrivals dropped from 2,228,459 for January to June in 2019 to 886,447 for the same period this year.
Visitors from Asean member countries plunged from 1,462,985 to 555,475. In particular, tourists from neighbouring Thailand plummeted from 942,470

to 350,098 while Vietnamese arrivals fell from 468,632 to 186,174.
Meanwhile, the number of Chinese tourists also dropped from 261,199 to 138,457, South Korea decreased from 46,967 to 40,207, and Japan dropped from 44,559 to 11,081, according to the official report.
An official in charge, who asked not to be named, said international tourist arrivals to Laos had decreased due to international border checkpoints being closed in line with many other countries during the Covid-19 outbreak.
In Laos, all parts of the local tourism industry have been affected by the pandemic, including hotels, resorts and guesthouses, tour companies, and the nation’s many tourist sites. In addition, many major events have been cancelled or postponed.
The government initially planned to attract about 4.7 million international visitors in 2020 and generate revenue of more than US$900 million.
Achieving the annual plan was now unfeasible given the massive fall in the first six months of this year, the official in charge said.
Tourism and hospitality businesses have taken the brunt of the Covid-19 slump with more than US$450,000 lost from the sector during the first two months of the year.
Visitors arrivals from China and Thailand, the leading markets for Laos dropped by 16 and 5 percent respectively in the same period, according to the National Economic Research Institute (NERI).
However, in response, the government is encouraging Lao travellers to holiday within the country by focusing on increased promotional activities to boost domestic tourism in line with the national socio-economic development plan.
The Tourism Marketing Department is stepping up efforts to target domestic tourists through various media channels, and will hold a workshop to discuss the promotional campaign and consult with operators to prepare visitor facilities.
In addition, Laos has vast potential in developing tourism sites, with several incentives introduced to boost investment in the sector.
Investors are welcome to develop and operate tourism sites in line with the country’s laws.
More than a thousand tourism sites have not been developed or opened for services as the necessary facilities and infrastructure to access them is not in place.


By Keoviengkhone Bounviseth
(Latest Update July 24, 2020)

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