Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Nation prepares welcome for 5.2 million during Visit Lao Year 2018

By:  Souksakhone Vaenkeo, Vientiane Times, August 5, 2017

Lao tourism authorities will aim for a total of 5.2 million foreign tourist arrivals for Visit Lao Year 2018, representing a significant increase from last years' figures that saw the country witness a year-on-year decrease of some 10 percent.

In 2016, foreign visitors arrivals recorded declined to just more than 4.23 million, a drop of 10 percent compared to 2015, according to statistics from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

It was estimated that foreign visitors would reach more than 4.89 million this year and continue to rise to 5.2 million in 2018.

The increase forecast was justified by the fact that tourism promotional programmes are being prepared that will be organised throughout the 2018 Visit Laos Year to attract visitors, Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Ounethouang Khaophanh said.

"We have previously seen remarkable increases in foreign tourist arrivals when we organised the previous two Visit Laos Years in 2000 and 2012," he told the Vientiane Times .

In 2000, the first Visit Laos Year, the country registered 737,208 foreign visitors, an increase of about 20 percent compared 1999 when just 614,278 foreigners took holidays in the country.

In 2012, the second Visit Laos Year saw the country recording more than 3.33 million foreign visitor arrivals, an increase of about 22 percent compared to 2011 when just more than 2.72 million foreign tourist trips were made.

Visit Laos Year 2018 is set to be launched as early as November this year during the annual That Luang Festival (That Luang Stupa Festival) in Vientiane, one of the biggest festive events in the country.

Diverse cultures, customs, foods, festivals and lifestyles of multi-ethnic people of the country comprised of 49 ethnic groups are set to be showcased all year round for visitors to engage and admire.

In addition to numerous annual and cultural festivals organised in provinces as per custom, a number of additional tourism promotional programmes such as trade fairs and caravan tours to northern and southern regions of the country will also be organised for visitors to admire local charms and cultures.

In organising the 2018 Visit Laos Year, the third of its kind, authorities in charge are attaching importance to sustainable tourism by promoting more people to participate in and benefit from the tourism activities, Mr Ounethouang said.

He added that foreign countries have praised Laos for its community-based tourism programmes including a programme in Luang Prabang province supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that contributes to creating jobs and generating income for local people.

In explaining the reported decrease in arrivals in 2016, the deputy minister said a factor was that an increasing number of foreign workers were now using correct work permits after the formal launch of the Asean Community on December 31, 2015.

Previously many had utilised tourist visas incessantly, serving to raise recorded tourist arrival figures.

Meanwhile, incidents and threats of terrorism and instability experienced abroad were also among factors to reduce foreign arrivals last year.

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