LUANG PRABANG, 30 September 2016: Luang Prabang’s Information, Culture and Tourism Division says tourist arrivals, both locals and foreigners, are estimated to increase by 16% this year.
Lao News Agency quoted the provincial tourism division head, Soulithip Norkhounphoun, saying the steady increases in tourist arrivals has prompted a substantial expansion in rooms and facilities.
“Many new hotels have opened and there is a vast improvement in infrastructure due to stronger investor interest,” he said.
Last quarter travel should increase even further as there are now more low-cost airlines serving the destination. Based on developments elsewhere when low-cost airlines start services there is an accelerated growth in tourist arrivals,
Luang Prabang will see a growth of 20% or more per year.
Destinations rarely see this kind of growth as long as legacy airlines control the market and fares. They keep fares artificially high to drive profits, but within a year of low-cost airlines entering a market there is usually a dramatic upsurge in travel as people who once considered the destination to be too expensive snap up bargain fares. The surge in travel encourages more guesthouses and small boutique properties, owned by locals rather than foreign investors.
Thai AirAsia was the first low-cost airline to break the virtual ban on budget airlines flying to Luang Prabang when it launched services 24 March from Bangkok.
SilkAir will launch three weekly flights to Vientiane and Luang Prabang from 31 October.
AirAsia will shortly start a flight from Kuala Lumpur.
Luang Prabang’s tourism officials believe that the World Heritage town will attract around 600,000 international tourists by year’s end, the report said.
The destination recorded 500,000 foreign visits last year. It expects to receive 700,000 international visitors by 2018.
According to provincial officials, Luang Prabang currently has 76 hotels and resorts with 1,914 rooms and 372 guesthouses with 2,628 rooms.