The Visit Laos Year 2018 is due to take off by the end of this month. However, the most expected measure to boost tourist arrivals, a visa simplification or free visas on arrival for more countries does not seem to be anymore in the government’s agenda.
Laos is officially launching by the end of the month its Visit Laos Year 2018.The chosen date is October 28, which coincide with the opening of the annual That Luang Festival in Vientiane, in the presence of local senior officials and high profiled foreign guests.
Visit Laos Year 2018 will feature 18 main tourism activities scheduled to take place nationwide, Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone told during a press conference in Vientiane on October 12.
“The Lao PDR has organized Visit Laos Years twice so far with the first one during the fiscal year 1999-2000 while the second one took place in 2011-2012. Realizing the potential and possibility of tourism development, the government has approved Visit Laos Year 2018 which will feature both domestic and overseas events including 18 Visit Laos Year activities in provinces across the country,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.
Among the organised activities, Laos will show that car tourism is easy to the country. It will take caravans to visit tourist destinations in northern provinces and southern Laos. Media tours will be organised to visit tourist attractions to promote tourism products as well as showing well-known tourist attractions in the country.
For the celebration of the World Tourism Day, Laos will highlight That Luan Festival, the biggest minorities cultural event while it will also organise off road motorcycle racing, off road car racing, as well as climbing contests on the country’s most famous cliffs.
The government initially earmarked Kip23 billion for organizing tourism promotion activities over the next twelve months. This is still a low budget compared to other countries as it only represents a contribution of US$2.8 million.
“We are currently considering this amount of budget and eventually adjust it,” said Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara.
To promote tourism market in the country, the government announced its participation in the following overseas tourism events; That includes the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, ITB Berlin in Germany , the SMT -World Tourism Exhibition in Paris, France, the Lao Festival in Tokyo, Japan, the International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh (ITE HCM) in Vietnam, and World Travel Market (WTM) in London, UK.
“Making preparations for Visit Laos Year 2018 inevitably needs the cooperation and contribution from business community, government, private sector and international organizations so that it can be collectively hosted successfully as expected,” said Mr Sonexay, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Visit Lao Year 2018.
Laos has seen over the last two years a contraction in tourist arrivals. In 2016, international tourist arrivals declined by 10% to 4.23 million compared to 2015. Earlier estimation mention of a 4.9 million target in 2017. But it is unlikely now that Laos will reach that figure. According to official newspapers, tourist arrivals declined during the first half of 2017 by another 9.7%. Lao tourism authorities will aim for a total of five million foreign tourist arrivals during Visit Lao Year 2018.
The most significant measure to boost arrivals would be to simplify visa procedures or even provide free visa on arrivals to more countries. Evoked a few months ago, the measure does not seem to be part of the government’s agenda for the time being. Nothing about potential new visa regulations was mentioned during the recent press conference. But the Laotian government could still provide some good news to travellers before the end of the year.
(Partial source: KPL news)