VIENTIANE, 16 February 2015: Lao PDR’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism reports international tourist arrivals surpassed 4.1 million in 2014, up 10.03% from 3.7 million in 2013.
The Vientiane Times quoted figures from the ministry that confirmed 2014 closed with 4,158,719 visitors compared to 3,779,490 in 2013.
According to the ministry’s Tourism Research and Administrative Division statistics, Thailand continue to supply the most foreign tourists .
However, Thai arrivals decreased 0.76% from 2,059,434 to 2,043,761 visits last year and the length of stay is short.
Laos also saw an increase in Chinese visitors from 245,033 in 2013 to 422,440 in 2014, up 72.40%. The percentage growth is high due to the relatively small numbers. As the volume expands the growth rate will lower to around 10 to 15%, but there is no doubt that within five years, China will be the top travel source market fo Laos with much higher revenue than either Thailand or Vietnam.
Europe was the only region that saw travel to Laos drop, due to an economic downturn in key markets. The region supplied 209,331 visitors in 2014 down 1.52% from 212,566 in 2013.
Tourists from ASEAN member countries increased 5.92% from 3.04 million in 2013 to 3.22 million visitors in 2014, while tourists from non-ASEAN states increased by 46.0% to 630,361 visits in 2014.
Visitors from the Americas increased by 0.15% to 86,027 in 2014, while tourists from Africa and the Middle East increased by 13% to 8,920 in last year.
Laos has seen continuous growth in tourist arrivals in the country
The main challenge is that the length-of-stay is short for Asian visitors. The average length of stay is only eight days, according to the ministry. However, tourists from Europe stay on average 14 days.
Tourism Marketing Department general director, Saly Phimphinith, said the target was to attract a length of stay of 10 days, but it would take another five years to realise.
Another challenge for Laos is how the country can attract more high-end tourists to generate more revenue for the national economy.