SPECIAL MEKONG TOURISM FORUM Luang Prabang Defies Declining Trend in Lao Tourism

Luang Prabang aerial view

While Lao PDR registered a decrease of 10% in total international arrivals in 2016–mostly due to a contraction in tourist arrivals from neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, Luang Prabang broke a new record in tourist arrivals last year, up by almost 6% over 2015.

While Lao PDR received 4,239,000 foreign tourists in 2016 (-9.5% compared to 2015), Luang Prabang welcomed over 469,000 foreign travellers, a growth of 5.3% compared to last year. The destination has experienced a steady growth in, total foreign visitors’ arrivals. Between 2010 and 2016, international tourist arrivals increased by 205%. Lasy year, tourism for Luang Prabang Province generated US$195 million.

The good performance of Luang Prabang compared to other destinations in Lao PDR is due to the high share of overseas travellers to the Province. While overseas arrivals represented 8.43% of all international arrivals to Lao PDR in 2016, overseas arrivals to Luang Prabang represented 60.1% of all international arrivals to the Province.

“Due to the province’s unique tourism resources, tourism is the top priority of the government’s social-economic development plan for the province. To develop tourism in sustainable way, we have prioritized the facilitation and attraction of domestic and international investors to invest in Luang Prabang and facilitate tourism and trade cooperation with GMS countries and other countries, which we believe will make Luang Prabang become an even better tourist destination in the future”, explained in her opening MTF inauguration speech Dr. Soudaphone Khomthavong, Deputy Director Department of Information, Culture and Tourism in Luang Prabang Province.

“It is Luang Prabang’s outstanding cultural, natural and historical heritage values supported by its sustainable tourism development strategies that are the reason for its ability to attract an increasing number of domestic
and international tourists and participants in international meetings.

The opening of more non-stop international flights as well as more international hotel chains and boutique hotels will continue to have a positive impact on Luang Prabang tourism evolution in the years to come. “We already received the confirmation that Hong Kong Express airline and Thai Smile will start linking our city this year, after China Eastern to Kunming last March. Regarding international chains, Pullman is due to open Luang Prabang largest hotel property by the end of the year”, added Mrs. Khomthavong.

In 2017, Luang Prabang is likely to pass for the first time the half-million foreign tourist arrivals’ mark and continues to increase its market share in  Lao PDR total arrivals.

Luang Prabang total arrivals generated 6.3% of all international visitors’ arrivals back to 2014, reaching 7.6% in 2015 and 9.5% in 2016. Luang Prabang is now Lao PDR third most visited province by foreign travellers in 2016 after Vientiane Capital and Savannakhet. The province moved up by three ranks, taking over Champassak, Vientiane Province and Khammouane last year.