Laos What's New
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.