Laos’ plan to increase its tourism revenues by focusing mainly on attracting more tourists with high purchasing power from now until 2020 is facing a great challenge due to the impact of the global financial crisis, which originated in the United States. The Vice President of Laos' Tourism Authority, Ambassador Vang Rattanavong points out that this plan should be feasible as the Authority expects with confidence that some 1.8 million tourists will have visited the country by the end of 2008, and so far this year, over 1.2 million tourists have visited six provinces of Laos.
Moreover, tourism officials said they plan to attract over 2.1 million visitors in 2009, and to increase that number to 2.3 million in 2010, and eventually to 3 million visitors by the year 2020. Authorities hope to generate revenues of over US$330 million in the service and tourist industries in 2010, as they will focus their efforts on targeting tourists with high purchasing power.
However, our VOA-Bangkok stringer says the current global economic situation makes it unlikely that this goal will be achieved, given the fact that Laos is a country that relies on foreign direct investments as the driving force for the country’s development.
The impact of this global economic and financial crisis on Lao tourism sector is inevitable for Lao tourism as 90% of Laos’ visitors have come mainly from the Southeast Asia region, and 60% of the total number of foreign visitors to Laos each year come via Thailand. Therefore, since Thailand is facing a reduction in the number of tourists that includes Laos and other neighboring countries as their final destinations, the numbers of visitors to Laos will inevitably decrease significantly.
According to Thailand's
Tourism Authority, the number of visitors to Thailand in the past two months
have decreased 20% compared to the same period of last year. Moreover, this situation is projected to get
worse, as 30% of hotel and tour reservations in Thailand from October 2008 to January 2009 have been canceled as well as over
300 chartered tourist flights into Thailand.
And many of those tourists had plans to go on to visit Thailand’s neighboring
countries, including Laos. As a result,
Lao tourism will inevitably be affected by this global economic downturn.
But Mr. Vang Rattanavong says that from now on his department will stress quality, not quantity, in its efforts to attract foreign tourists.
Listen to Songrit's report for further details.