BANGKOK, 8 MAY 2020: The ban on flights to Laos continues with no end date in sight as far as government announcements go.
Lao Airlines, owned by the government, confirmed this week it had suspended plans to resume domestic flights 8 May. Travel professionals in the country hoped the return of domestic flights would help reboot confidence.
Airline officials said the decision to delay flights resumptions was part of the country’s measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, a Facebook report posted on Thursday by the ‘Tourism Professionals in Laos’ group, noted that Luang Prabang’s tourist sites would also remain firmly closed.
The report said authorities have advised that all tourist sites and associated services will remain closed to minimise the risk of spreading the pandemic.
However, hotels, guesthouses and resorts, as well as restaurants, remain open in the country’s top destination, according to Luang Prabang Information Culture and Tourism Department.
Strict precautionary measures are in place at hotels and restaurants. Temperature scans of both employees and customers are required. All employees and customers must wear face masks, alcohol gel dispensers and basins for handwashing must be provided for all guests.
Some hotel managers mulled over a proposal to organise charter flights to Luang Prabang once the virus was under control. They pencilled in September as possibly a month when flights could begin, but the costs and conditions required to organise charters were problematic.
Experts now say that European travellers may not return to Laos until late in Q4 or during the first quarter of 2021. The idea of an early revival in international travel to Laos and its neighbours is fading fast. Luang Prabang, a town that relies heavily on tourism, faces an uncertain future and there is evidence that unemployment will soar over the next few months, increasing poverty and hardship for the town’s residents.