The Ministry of Planning and Investment in Lao PDR have produced a report stating that a total of 2,100 tourist locations in Laos are already attracting lots of tourists, or can potentially do so in the near future.
These include 2 World Heritage sites that are part of more than 1000 ecotourism sites, 600 cultural locations and almost 300 historical places.
There were 3 natural destinations highlighted in the report that are of particular appeal to foreign tourists. These are:
- Tad Champee: A waterfall in Paksong district, Champasak province
- Pou Kham Cave: In the Vang Vieng district, Vientiane province
- Namueang hot spring: In Houa Mueang District, Huaphan province
The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism has a 3-year plan to improve tourist attractions throughout the country.
Until 2020 the focus will be on improving infrastructure such as road access to the sites and a variety of different travel choices to suit the international visitors taste in terms of budget and comfort.
The ministry will take responsibility for developing a total of 23 tourism sites. In conjunction with this the 17 provinces that make up the People’s Democratic Republic have been tasked to develop 20 tourism sites each with completion of all cited for 2020.
2016 saw a 10% decline in international tourist visits. 4.2 million international visitors visited the country as opposed to 4.68 million in 2015.
Statistics have attributed this decline to lower numbers of Thai visitors and Vietnamese citizens. These 2 countries contribute over 50% of all tourists visiting Laos.
This is a significant slice of any market and tourism advertising will be increased to tempt travelers from these two nations as well as neighbouring countries. China is also seen as a major country in terms of boosting international visitors.
In terms of tourism revenue, it was estimated that tourism brought 724 million USDLRS into the country in 2016. This was a slight drop from the 725 million USDLRS it generated the previous year.
The outlook and forecasts from the country’s Tourism Development Department is a positive one. They have stated that 6 million tourists per year will be visiting Laos by 2020.
Assuming the existing tourist venues, proposed new venues and the associated infrastructure improvements keep pace with the projections above then the Laos PDR should certainly become far more accessible to foreign visitors.
Once this is achieved the recognition that some of these sites richly deserve will be recognized as they should be by an international audience.