Lao PDR tourism up 13%
VIENTIANE, 24 February 2014: Laos’ Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Tourism Development Department reported, last week, that international arrivals to the country had soared 13% to close 3.7 million visits in 2013.
The department confirmed 3,779,490 foreign arrivals up 13.49% from 3,330,072 visits in 2012.
ASEAN remained the largest source at 3,041,233 improving 12.12% from 2,712,478, dominated by overland travel from neighouring Thailand and Vietnam.
Thailand was the top market supplying 2,059,434 visits up 6.28% from 1,937,612 visits in 2012. Generally, Lao tourism officials view the Thai market as a low earner when compared with the much smaller European market or even China.
The tourism boom between the two countries, especially overland travel, has been attributed to better road networks and bridge links.
The Fourth Mekong Friendship Bridge, that opened last December, spans the river between Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai province, Thailand and Huay Xai in Bokeo province, Laos. It is mainly used by container trucks that ferry exports from China to Thailand.
The construction of the fifth bridge, between Bolikhamxai province of Laos and Bung Kan province in Thailand, is also on the drawing board and there are tentative plans to build a sixth bridge between Saravane province in Laos and Ubon Ratchathani province in Thailand.
Vietnam, the second top source market supplied 910,164 increasing 28.99% from 705,596 visits.
Arrivals from other Asian countries and the Pacific reached 431,878, up 23.87% from 348,637 visits.
China led the field with 245,033 arrivals gaining 22.60% from 199,857. It shares a border with Laos and overland travel is expanding mainly to Luang Prabang, via the northwest town of Luang Namtha.
Other main markets were: South Korea (91,799; +51.96%); Japan (48,644; +15.74%); Australia (35,441; +4.61%); and New Zealand (5,451; +0.60%).
Europe represented an increase of 14.40% from 185,802 to 212,566 visits last year.
Laos’ top five suppliers from Europe were: France (52,411; +11.82%); the United Kingdom (41,741; +16.94%); Germany (29,250; +24.90%); Russia (11,649; 34.79%); and the Netherlands (10,899; +17.40%).
Arrivals from the Americas were positive at 13.25% from 75,851 to 85,899 visits. Main markets also showed improvement, the United States (61,608; +15.41%) and Canada (17,132; +2.32%).
The smallest regional market, Africa and the Middle East, grew 8.35% from 7,304 to 7,914 visits.