The number of local and overseas tourist arrivals to Luang Prabang Province is estimated to increase by 16 percent per year. “The increases in tourist arrivals has led to the development of basic infrastructure for tourism and accommodation in Luang Prabang Province to provide better facilities to tourists,” Head of Provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Division Soulithip Norkhounphoun explained recently to Laos news agency KPL. He added that the number of hotels had grown because the province had improved its infrastructure attracting additional investors each year, as well as reforming its marketing to promote tourism through online channels.
The tourism services also created more jobs for local people producing handicrafts and engaged in food processing. It has also spurred growth in the number of people raising animals and organic produce.
The per capita income of residents living in Luang Prabang has increased to an average of US1,476 (Lao Kip 12 million) improving living conditions of people staying in the city area of the former Laotian royal capital.
In addition, both domestic and international business operations saw additional benefits from the increase in tourist arrivals, especially as overseas and local investors are very keen to build and invest in hotels, guesthouses, resorts and restaurants.
Luang Prabang’s tourism officials believe that the World Heritage town will attract around 600,000 international tourists by year’s end, up from 445,000 international travellers. The city could welcome 700,000 international visitors by 2018. Domestic visitors in 2015 reached close to 162,000 arrivals and could grow to 190,000 arrivals by 2018.
Top markets to Luang Prabang in 2015 were Thailand with 61,300 international travellers, closely tracked by China with 60,800 visitors, South Korea with 33,500 travellers, the UK with 32,000 and France with close to 30,000 visitors. Korea and China are the fastest growing markets to the former royal capital, up respectively by 89% and 64%.
However, growth in arrivals from ASEAN countries were slow, up only by 4.5%. This would change in 2016 and 2017 as new air links were opened by low cost carriers to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur while Silk Air inaugurated a regular service to Singapore.
According to provincial officials, Luang Prabang currently has 76 hotels and resorts with 1,914 rooms and 372 guesthouses with 2,628 rooms.