Published on : Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Laos as a land with beautiful nature, peaceful temples and historical architecture with a French touch often delude people into thinking that the tourism industry is a significant part of the tiny, landlocked Southeast Asian state’s economy.
Laos’ tourism industry statistics are much behind its bigger neighboring countries like Cambodia with $5.5 billion, or 28.3 percent of GDP, or Thailand with $82.5 billion, or 20.6 percent of GDP.
Laos’ challenges in the tourism sector extend beyond figures. For example, in the last year, the number of foreign tourists visiting Laos actually dropped 8.7 percent compared to 2016. Visitors from Europe decreased 27 percent, those from South Korea dropped 2 percent, and tourists from Thailand were down 11 percent, according to National Economic Research Institute of Laos (NERI).
NERI points out some key challenges behind such outcomes. Limited promotional advertising, a relatively high cost of general services and living costs, and lack of tourism products as reasons behind Laos’ disappointing performance in the tourism industry according to NERI.
However, this scenario might change soon. The Laos government is currently pushing a Visit Laos Year campaign, which is aimed at reversing the country’s declining tourism fortunes. It has an ambitious goal of attracting 5.2 million tourists, with projected revenues of approximately $910 million in 2018.
The country also plans to introduce electronic visa (E-visa) services at the end of this year or early next year for attracting more foreign tourists.