Call to improve safety

VIENTIANE, 21 February 2017: Lao PDR’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism says the country should develop tourism products and improve safety measures to attract more visitors and build tourist confidence.

Lao New Agency quoted the ministry’s deputy minister, Bouangeun Saphouvong, saying the tourism sector in Laos should develop integrated tourism products to attract more visitors to the country.

“We also have to ensure visitors that they can enjoy themselves, get a broad knowledge of Laos and its culture, see beautiful places, taste delicious food, as well travel safely on good transport.”

inside no 4There are numerous travel advisories on Laos warning travellers of the dangers of travelling overland between the popular tourist destinations of Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.

Sections of two highways north of Kasi (new and old highway) have been identified as areas threatened by bandits and armed gangs.

The number of international tourists visiting Laos decreased by 10% from over 4.68 million in 2015 to 4.2 million last year.

The reduction has been attributed to the decline in Thai and Vietnamese visits, two markets that contribute 50% of all foreign visitors to Laos.

“We should find measures to resolve the problems that cause a decline as the government has an ambitious vision to attract over 6 million foreign visitors on an annual basis by 2020.”

German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation’s (GIZ) Initiative for ASEAN Integration’s project director, Kim Nguyen Van, suggested the improvement of existing and the development of additional regional tourism products would play a key role in this endeavour.

“Many tourists do not see Laos as a single travel destination but perceive the country as part of a regional trip, together with its neighboring countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.”

Department of Civil Aviation earlier said its priority is to encourage more international airlines to serve the country.

Up until 2015, traffic rights were difficult to obtain particularly to Luang Prabang where there was virtual ban on low-cost airlines. However, 2016 saw a change in policy and low-cost airlines opened services from neighbouring countries.

Airline seat quotas on flights between Vientiane and Bangkok have also been increased in a bid to promote trade, investment and tourism between the two destinations.

Nations with direct flights to Laos include China, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.

There are more than 1,960 tourist sites, including over 270 historical attractions, almost 540 cultural attractions and 1,145 natural tourist sites in Laos.

However, only 700 of these tourist sites have been developed and introduced to the public.

The most popular destinations were Vientiane capital, Luang Prabang, Champasak, and Vang Vieng (district) in Vientiane province.

The tourism industry is one of the most important and fastest growing industries in the Laos, representing 14% of its overall GDP and 12% of the workforce in the country.