Source: Investvine – Asia Business News
With hordes of Chinese tourists overrunning one Southeast Asian country after the other as a result of a new travel freedom and rising spending power, Laos is the next destination on the map for them.
A number of infrastructure mega-projects currently being built in Laos should serve as connecting lines between the two countries, including a new expressway and the almost $6-billion railway line that will link Vientiane to the Chinese border.
In addition, Chinese firms are investing in tourism-related infrastructure projects in several provinces of Laos that could draw more Chinese visitors.
Chinese nationals accounted already for about 11 per cent of Laos’ 3.86 million tourist arrivals last year, a figure that was down overall by 8.6 per cent from 2016. In 2017, Chinese tourists were one of the few markets to grow, up 17 per cent to 639,185 arrivals.
Many Chinese enter Laos via a border crossing, driving from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. Some 210,133 Chinese tourists crossed the land border last year.
“I’m sure that many more Chinese visitors will come to Laos in the next five to ten years after the completion of the railway project,” the Vientiane Times quoted Phouvieng Sykaysone, deputy head of Vang Vieng district’s office of information, culture and tourism, as saying.
Earlier this year, a Chinese firm in partnership with a Lao company signed a concession agreement with the Lao government to develop a new town in 4,000 Islands region. The Chinese said they will spend $9 billion to develop infrastructure and tourism-related activities, including hotels and restaurants, in the area adjacent to Khonphapheng Waterfall and surrounding areas.
The company expects to attract 1.3 million visitors annually from around the world, including Chinese tourists, by 2025, and 10 million tourists per year by 2050.
Chinese companies are also eager to build and expand airports in several provinces of Laos, particularly those in Xieng Khouang and Champasak provinces, to facilitate the growth of tourism in Laos.
China is also adding more flights to Laos. Previously, only China Eastern Airlines operated flights but more recently, it has been joined by Sichuan Airlines and Hainan Airlines. More and more Chinese people are flying to destinations across Laos following the improvement of infrastructure and facilities for tourists in the landlocked country.