Laos is launching it’s “Visit Laos Year 2018”
If you have ever visited Lao, you will have noticed; it’s not the most popular country for tourism.
It is not as well developed or as cheap as some of its neighbors, for example, Thailand.
Laos capital city Vientiane, is a hub, a hub for Thailand’s tourist doing visa runs, staying for a few days and heading back to Thailand. Having visited Vientiane a number of times myself, I must agree with the consensus that there is not a lot to do there.
So….. I must ask
Is Laos really marketing itself the correct way?
Is the hospitality industry being as innovative as possible?
The number of visitors to Laos is declining, so Laos is preparing to launch its “Visit Laos Year 2018”. The aim of this is to promote the tourism industry and revive interest in the country. Lao News Agency quoted Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism’s Tourism Marketing Department general director, Sounh Manivong, said the “Visit Laos Year 2018 launch would take place this November to coincide with the That Luang festival. Well-known celebrations in each province of Laos will be highlighted at the launch ceremony including the Blossom Festival in Bokeo, the Elephant Festival in Sayaboury, and the Lao New Year celebration in Luang Prabang.”
The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism is in the process of recommending that the government create more favorable conditions for foreign visitors to the country, the report added.
A timetable of monthly events in every province is under consideration. Tourism Minister Bosengkham Vongdara stated that publications featuring events would be released soon.
Provincial authorities were asked to come up with ideas to make the Visit Laos Year a success. This plan was first carried out in 1999. It focused on the country’s natural and historical attractions, culture, traditions, and ethnic lifestyles.
Images from Visit Laos 1999
This time around it is viewed as a tool to reverse a decline in tourist arrivals that began last year. One point that would help this be a success and is being hoped by officials is that that visa entries will be eased. The possibility of visa-free travel for non-Asean nationalities would also have a noticeable impact.
A major focus point by tour operators is that a review of pricing is needed. The cost of holidaying in Laos is higher than in neighboring Thailand.
The tourism ministry reported the country attracted 1.11 million international tourists during the period of January to March, this year, a decrease of 12% from 1.24 million visits during the same period last year.
The first quarter of 2017 saw 763,000 visits from ASEAN countries, which represented an 11% decrease when compared with 866,000 visits in the first quarter of 2016.
Travellers from Europe recorded almost 60,000, this figure is down 29%, followed by nearly 20,000 visits from the Americas (-30%) and 2,100 visits from Africa and the Middle East (-29%).
Thailand, which has dominated the list of foreign visits to Laos for several years, showed a decrease of 13% from 573,000 visits to 498,000 visits for Q1 this year.
In 2016, tourist arrivals reached over 4.2 million, which was a decrease 10% from over 4.6 million in 2015. During 2016, revenue reached USD724 million, a slight reduction from USD725 million revenue in 2015.
The country says it should reach 4.8 million tourists and earn USD843 million this year. It is estimated that by 2025 tourists will reach 7.5 million with over USD1.3 billion in revenue.
Will Visit Laos Year 2018 be a success?
In my opinion, it will have some effect, but not as much as the Laos tourism authority is hoping. Thailand is full of temples and festivals, so Laos will not be able to offer anything new here. Free visas would be a big help.
Laos needs to focus more on marketing itself at what sets it apart from other countries such as Thailand. One major point for Laos is the fact that it is less developed, and that is not a bad thing. Laos should focus on its natural unspoiled landscape, culture, and history.
Sources for this article
Lao Tourism Website http://www.tourismlaos.org
Lao Travel Guide http://www.visit-laos.com
Lao Tourism http://www.laotourism.org