Lao PDR welcomed 4.58 million international visitors in 2019, representing a growth of 9% over 2018. With a second consecutive year of growth, tourism is on its way to recovery despite numbers still being inferior to the 2015 record year.
Laos continued its recovery last year with a total growth of 9% in international arrivals, after growing by 8.2% in 2018. Local daily Vientiane Times recently quoted Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department under Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Sounh Manivong, as saying that much of the success was due to the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 campaign.
Despite the obvious success of the Visit Laos-China Year, total arrivals are still below the record year 2015. That year, Lao PDR welcomed a total of 4.68 million foreign arrivals. This number is likely to be overhauled in 2020 as the country can expect five million international tourists.
The Visit Laos-China Year campaign translated into a jump of 27% in Chinese travellers last year. For the first time, Chinese visitors reached over one million arrivals at exactly 1.02 million.
Other markets progressed as well with US total visitors’ number jumping by 22% while Thailand, Lao PDR main tourism inbound source, rose by 6%. The total number of Vietnamese visitors increased as well by 11%.
Tourist arrivals from many high-end countries also increased. Besides the United States, visitors from Britain increased by 22%, those from Germany by 13% while French tourism was also back on track with 11% more travellers in 2019.
By comparison, visitor numbers from South Korea dropped by 1%, the number from Denmark fell by 27%, from Switzerland by 18% while the number of tourists from Finland plummeted by 28%.
Northern Laos’ Luang Prabang province, some 220 km north of the capital Vientiane, ranks 11th in Architectural Digest’s annual list of the top 20 places to travel in 2020, which will help push the department’s target of 4.9 million visitors for this year.
Nevertheless, the Tourism Marketing Department will continue promoting Laos at major international tourism exhibitions in China and Europe.
According to the department, Laos has 670 hotels, 2,432 guesthouses and resorts, 2,646 restaurants and 305 entertainment venues. There are numerous officially designated tourist attractions including 1,318 nature-based sites, 596 places of cultural interest, and 294 places of historical significance.
(Partial source: Xinhua)