Laos finally officially announced to have recorded an eight percent Increase In total foreign visitor arrivals In 2018, reverting three years of decline.
Last year recorded 4.18 million foreign visitor arrivals, an increase of 8.2 per cent compared to 2017, according the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
The number of visitors from Asia-Pacific region was increased by 8.4 % to 3.94 million, and that from Europe rose by 3 % to over 165,000.
Last year also recorded a 7.5 % increase, in the number of visitors from Americans, to over 69,000, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara told the nationwide meeting of the Information, Culture and Tourism sector last February.
Though Visit Laos Year 2018 attracted more than 4.1 million foreign tourists to Lao PDR, the figure is still disappointing as it stands well below the target of five million visitors. The 5-million target was set by the government.
“During Visit Laos Year 2018, many activities and festivals were organized and celebrated across the country to welcome visitors. These events highlighted local lifestyles, sports, traditions as well as popular tourist sites,” said Minister Bosengkham Vongdara.
Although the government announced visa exemption for visitors from four countries including Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, it has been deemed insufficient by professionals who were expecting more countries to be part of the scheme.
It is projected that by 2020 the number of visitor arrivals in Laos will reach about 6.20 million while total revenues generated by the tourism sector should amount to over 900 million.
This year, Laos is indeed playing safe with its tourism target as it named 2019 as the Visit Laos-China Year. Launched last January in Vientiane by Lao Tourism Minister Bosengkham Vongdara and his Chinese counterpart, the Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang, the Visit Year will help boosting tourist arrivals to China through cooperation agreements and special events. Promotion will also be sustained inside of China PRC to stimulate Chinese arrivals to its Southern neighbour.