Tourist-Population Ratio Makes Laos a Winner: MoICT

The number of people visiting Laos is high compared to neighbouring countries if the nation’s population size is taken into account, as tourist arrivals are more than half the size of the total population of Laos, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, told the National Assembly last week.

He also addressed the industry’s shortcomings, but remains hush on revenue, which, according to the ministry’s 2016 Statistical Report was a dismal $76.80 per day from international visitors, excluding Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Canada. When including the regional neighbours, revenue stood at $52.81. The 2017 Statistical Report has yet to be made public.

Although the number of visitors has dipped slightly, the figure is still high compared to neighbouring countries when compared to the respective population size, Minister Vongdara said.

The largest number of visitors to Laos was 4.6 million in 2015, which was equal to about 60 percent of the Lao population. No other country in the region could attract tourist arrivals in numbers that exceeded 50 percent of their population, according to statistics recorded by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Vietnam had a population of more than 95 million in 2017 and received 12.9 million visitors that year, according to

To attract even more visitors, Laos has launched Visit Laos Year 2018 and prepared a raft of colourful activities which authorities are actively promoting in the media.

Some 13 provinces have already staged activities for Visit Laos Year, incorporating a multitude of interesting events such as local festivals. These have attracted a large number of domestic and foreign visitors.
Authorities in five other provinces are getting into gear to prepare similar activities, Prof. Dr Bosengkham told Assembly members.

Tourism authorities have attended international events in Germany and France, as well as an Asean tourism fair in Thailand. They also arranged a festival in Japan to promote Lao tourism and Visit Laos Year, which sparked great interest among participants.

But Laos still faces challenges in attracting visitors, with some people complaining they have been asked to pay unwarranted fees or fines at checkpoints on roads and at tourist sites, which is upsetting for both tourists and tour operators.

In addition, transport charges by various service providers vary and tend to be expensive while the entry fees at some tourist attractions are unreasonable, Prof. Dr Bosengkham admitted.

In general, prices in the provinces and in Laos as a whole are high compared to those in neighbouring countries.

The minister added that many designated tourist sites do not have any facilities while some are unsafe, with the result that some foreign tourists have died or been injured.

The tourism industry also suffers from poorly trained tour guides who have an inadequate grasp of the country’s history, especially the historical associations of some visitor attractions. There is also a shortage of tour guides who are fluent in foreign languages, the minister said.

In the first three months of this year, Laos attracted more than one million people, an increase of about 2 percent compared to the first three months of last year.

Last year, just over 3.8 million people visited Laos – a drop of 8.73 percent compared to 2016 – according to statistics recorded by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Source: Vientiane Times