The government of Laos is set to revise its expectations for tourism arrivals this year, as it appears unlikely the country will welcome the forecasted 5 million visitor arrivals for 2018, nor will it earn the expected $900 million in tourism revenue.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told the 11th Lao Business Forum held on 5 July, that less than 2 million foreign tourists had visited the country in the first 6 months of the year.
After two years of declining numbers, the Visit Laos Year 2018 campaign aimed to reverse the trend, and set the target of 5 million visitors after 2017’s arrivals tumbled to 3.86 million in 2017, an 8.73 percent decline from the previous year.
“We still face challenges in reaching 5 million visitors as the current figure for mid-year is not even touching two million,” the Prime Minister said, and he expressed hopes the upcoming high season would push numbers closer to previous expectations.
The tourism industry’s share of Laos’ GDP stood at 13.7 percent of GDP, in 2017. This lags behind neighbouring Cambodia at 28.3 percent and Thailand at 20.6 percent.
The Lao government has repeatedly said it is committed to prioritising tourism development, as it plays a vital role in job creation, community development, and incentivising environmental protection measures.
There are also plans to introduce an e-visa option next year to replace the visa-on-arrival procedure and simplify entry requirements for potential visitors.