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Laos What's New

Arrival

Lao People’s Democratic Republic was recognized as the World's Best Tourist Destination for 2013 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT). Tourist arrivals are surging-up 22% on a per annum basis-with  last year's estimate at 3.3 million. At present, the tourism sector  is the second  largest income earner in Lao PDR.  Major tourist sources are Asean states, but Laos is targeting the three European countries of France, England and Germany as the top priority markets for tourists, as their economies remain relatively strong and they are easy to cater to.

The Laos government estimates that the number of tourist arrivals could reach 3.58 million in 2013, 3.74 million in 2015 and 4.5 million people by 2020. To achieve the goal of 3.74 million visitors in 2015, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism has outlined  seven  priority  programs,  including developing essential infrastructure at tourist sites and encouraging more business operators to cater to  visitors,  while  an  international  promotional campaign will highlight the many attractions that Laos has to offer.

Access

Lao  Airlines  operates  some  new  routes  from Vientiane  to  Singapore,  from  Luang  Prabang  to Jinghong (Yunnan province/China) and from Pakse to Danang and Saigon or Siem Reap in Cambodia. Bangkok Airways also has new daily lights from Bangkok to Vientiane.  The new carrier Laos Central Airlines links Vientiane and Bangkok and aim for more domestic and regional connections. The infrastructure has been upgraded, and the road network from north to south and east to west are now  conveniently  linking  the  Lao  PDR  to neighboring countries.

Visas

Laos is considering a single-visa scheme with its neighbors  Thailand  and  Cambodia  to  promote balanced  development  in  the  sub-region,  Laos officials said. The  Mekong  Economic  Co-operation  Strategy (ACMECS)  meeting  has  promoted  a  single-visa policy among its members - Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar  and  Vietnam  -  since  2003,  and hopes it will be realised in December 2015, when Southeast Asia is set to become a single economic community. So far, only Thailand and Cambodia have launched the single-entry visa  in December  last year.  It  is available at Thai and Cambodian embassies.

Hotels

According  to  statistics  from  the  Tourism Development  Department  of  the  Ministry  of Information, Culture and Tourism, the number of accommodations, restaurants and leisure venues rose from 1,774 in 2011 to 3,526 in 2012. Several hotels have been opened recently in Luang Prabang, such as Xieng Thong Palace, Luang Say Residence and Hotel de la Paix.  Hotel supply in the capital Vientiane is also being beefed  up, with  several  to  open  in  2012-2013, adding to the 14 upscale hotels that currently exist. While  the number of upscale  travelers  is due  to grow over the coming years, Laos continues to lack high-quality  accommodation  of  international standards.

Cruises

River  cruising  is  relaxing  for  the  traveler, but as demand  for  new  offerings  increases,  tour  boat operators ind themselves busier than ever as they try to keep up with growing demand for river boat cruises in Southeast Asia. Luang Say Mekong Cruises has three boats traveling between Huay Xai (border Thailand  - Laos) to Luang Prabang.  Passengers can opt for 2 to 5 day trips, staying in lodges along the Mekong River. The Vat Phou Mekong cruise proposes a 3 day / 2 night cruise that starts and inishes in Pakse, Laos.

This cruise on the southern part of the Mekong river in Laos visits the majestic uNESCO World Heritage Vat Phou ruins at Champasak, the mysterious Oum Muong ruins at Huei Thamo, the 4,000 Islands with its  myriad  of  waterways,  and  the  Pha  Pheng waterfall on the Laos - Cambodia border.

Nto

Laos’   government  keeps  investing  money  in infrastructure, products and marketing.  The country is  gearing  up  for  an  action-packed  year  ahead, banking on three major events to raise its proile among international tourists. Tourism  is  now  a major  contributor  to  national income (7%-9% of GDP) and employment.   There is also a focus on the development of sustainable tourism  based  on  culture,  nature  and  historical resources.
The Government of Lao PDR has placed tourism as one  of  eleven  priority  sectors  to  contribute  to country’s socio -economic development. It seeks to implement  an  open-door  policy  concerning cooperation with foreign nations in economic and cultural maters, to promote tourism development that  alleviates  poverty  and  stimulates  local production, to create employment opportunities and to conserve and protect ancient archaeological sites,  the  natural  environment  and  historic monuments.

Tourism Trends

For Laos tourism, new products like home-stays, eco-tourism, and  cultural and heritage and  soft adventure tours will appeal to the primary source markets.  For  example  Kamu  Lodge (kamulodge.com) in the heart of the Lao jungle, on the banks of the Mekong, strikes a delicate balance between  tourism  and  the  maintenance  of  the region's cultural and ethnic heritage. Laid back country, serene nature, exotic lands, the Lao people low pace lifestyle, a sense of place and heritage are the main motivations that make people to travel to Laos.  Cruise tourism on the Mekong River is getting the interest of travelers.

Multi-country  tours  combining  Laos with  other countries is popular, yet more tourists come back to discover Laos or chose Laos as a single destination for a two week long trip. oUr neW ProdUCTs To attract more travelers to Laos for longer stay trips we have launched two news exotic tours providing guests a truly authentic and unique experience. These trips emphasize the scenic and natural beauty of  Laos, minimizing  your  time  in  big  cities,  yet balancing  authenticity  with  the  best  available accommodations and service. These two products provide a journey to the 4,000 islands  in  the  South,  as  well  as  the Khonephabangeng Falls, the  largest waterfall  in Southeast Asia.

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