Laos ran a successful Visit Laos Year 2018 campaign to attract tourists from around Laos and other countries, which saw visitor numbers increase significantly compared to 2017.
This message was highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone at a ceremony yesterday where he presented tourism development awards to outstanding operators in the industry for their contribution to Visit Laos Year 2018.
Throughout the year authorities staged colourful activities at festivals held in provinces across the country, attracting visitors from far and near.
Tourism authorities promoted Visit Laos Year 2018 in local and foreign media and arranged special events titled “Lao nights” overseas, where the country’s tourism products were widely advertised.
Yesterday’s ceremony at the National Culture Hall assessed the success of the campaign and officially brought the tourism promotion to an end.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara said authorities had taken significant steps to promote tourism including providing free entry visas for citizens of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden.
Viewpoints and signage were installed at some tourist sites and many tourism-related products were upgraded, including community-based tourism, homestays, and adventure activities, while all types of visitor attractions were improved, Prof. Dr Bosengkham said. Road access to tourist attractions and service standards in particular were upgraded to satisfy visitor needs, he added.
However, some shortcomings were revealed during the year-long campaign, such as a lack of facilities at some nature-based attractions.
In addition, activities in general were not sufficiently interesting and there was little in the way of new tourism products, while the price of food was considered to be expensive compared to neighbouring countries and tourist guides were not up to standard, Prof. Dr Bosengkham said.
To make more progress, authorities should improve service standards among hospitality staff and tour guides should know more languages to meet the needs of target markets.
The authorities should also encourage government agencies and businesses to partner in tourism promotion in the media and through exhibitions of tourism products in Laos and overseas.
The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism recommended that the government discount visa fees or offer free visas for the citizens of some countries, and improve the price of food and room rates at hotels and guesthouses.
Laos and China are now jointly hosting Visit Laos-China Year 2019 and it is hoped that the two countries will become more enticing holiday destinations as a result of the campaign.
Officials expect that more than 1 million Chinese out of an overall 4.5 million people will take holidays in Laos this year.
During Visit Laos Year 2018 more than 4.1 million visitors came to Laos, an increase of 8.2 percent compared to 2017 while the revenue generated from tourism was more than US$755 million, up 17 percent on 2017, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
By Siladda Souliyong