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S. Korea visitor numbers down 32 percent in Q1

The number of South Koreans visiting Laos plummeted by 32 percent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2018, when there was an upsurge over the previous year.
The Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism recorded visits by just over 46,000 Koreans from January to March.

An official in charge who asked not to be named told Vientiane Times authorities were unsure of the reason for the sharp decline. But he believed the drop in visitors could be attributed to the fact that service in general was of a poor standard and the cost of services and products at some popular tourist sites was high.
Some people who came to Laos decided not to return because they didn’t have a good impression of the country. The main grievances concerned poor service and bad road access to some visitor attractions.
Visitor numbers from Thailand also dropped during the first three months of the year, with just over 421,000 Thai nationals recorded as visiting Laos – a drop of about 9 percent.
This year Thailand is running its own tourism promotion campaign to encourage locals to take holidays at home, an official in charge explained.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism is looking for explanations and ways to bring visitors back to Laos.
Feedback indicates that hospitality operators will need to improve their services and regulate product prices as well as train staff how to interact with visitors, if the government is to achieve its target of 4.5 million visitors during Visit Laos-China Year.
In recent years there has been an upsurge in the number of Koreans visiting Vangvieng district in Vientiane province. To ensure the area remains popular, authorities are carrying out checks and advising service providers to regulate their prices.
This follows complaints by visitors about the high cost of goods and accommodation.
A district official said that visitors who are dissatisfied with the cost of food and accommodation as well as the fees charged at various tourist attractions can report their experience to authorities by calling 023 511707. Employers in Luang Prabang province have already taken a step in the right direction by improving the skills of tour guides and staff at hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants.
Authorities are also improving the quality of souvenirs on sale by making them more colourful and providing information about their significance on the packaging to make them more meaningful. Luang Namtha province has improved services at border crossings and trained officials to provide information to foreign visitors.
Champassak province has upgraded some of its visitor attractions and created three new tourist sites, as well as improving signage.
More than one million people vacationed in Laos in the first three months of this year, a dip of about 0.5 percent over last year, according to the Tourism Development Department.

By Siladda Souliyong
(Latest Update May 6, 2019)

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