Government officials met with business operators on Friday to discuss developments and problems in the tourism industry as well as share ideas on ways to improve services during the remainder of Visit Laos Year 2018.
The meeting aimed to improve the quality of tourism services and provide visitors with a better welcome as well as impressing them with the standard of facilities.
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara said tourism had huge potential to generate revenue, especially during Visit Laos Year 2018. The year-long programme is important in promoting tourism as well as preserving the culture and traditions of Laos.
Visit Laos Year served to stimulate the economy directly and indirectly, especially through an upswing in tourism-related businesses.
Government officials and business operators also discussed ways to tackle the various barriers to tourism and how best to promote and develop tourism both at present and in the coming years.
Among the main difficulties experienced by tourists are poor immigration procedures in some provinces, while some tourists using a new passport must pay a high immigration fee.
Business operators suggested that immigration points should have posters stating the various charges for foreigners and Lao nationals, to make the fees clear.
Another issue in the tourism industry is that in some provinces most business operators have a licence that is issued in the name of a Lao national but the business is actually run by foreigners.
In Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, adventure activities such as paramotors or paragliding are run by foreigners, but the regulation and management of these operations is unclear.
Some of the issues raised at the meeting were responded to by the authorities, with the rest to be addressed in the future.
The meeting also reported on cooperation between government officials and businesses to promote tourism. This included media promotion of Visit Laos Year 2018, and Lao representation at the International Travel Expo 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents convention in Tokyo.
Following on from these events in September, last month Laos was represented at the ITB Asia in Singapore and the Asean-China tourism meet in China.
Laos will also attend the Cambodia Travel Mart and the China International Travel Mart this month, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
To reach the target of 5 million visitors in Visit Laos Year 2018, the authorities have organised many activities to promote tourism, such as vehicle convoys through the central, northern and southern provinces.
More than 10 provinces are holding special activities to attract tourists and authorities will continue tourism promotion campaigns in Attapeu and Savannakhet provinces.
More than 2.9 million people vacationed in Laos in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year, according to the ministry’s Tourism Development Department.
Source: Vientiane Times