Luang Prabang province's revenues for the 2008-09 fiscal year are expected to fall short of the set goal, due mainly to the impact of the global economic and financial crisis, despite the increase in the number of foreign tourists during the first six months.
The province's Department of Finance reported that, during the first half of the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which covered the period between October 2008 to March 2009, it was able to collect more than 49 billion Kips in revenues, or 62% of the annual plan. The revenues came primarily from taxes, fees, state enterprise' earnings and others.
However, due to the impact of the global economic and financial crisis, department officials projected that by the end of the current fiscal year or the end of September, their department will be able to generate revenues of about 79,300 million Kips, which is 1,700 million Kips less than the previous fiscal year's total. Authorities expected the service and tourism sector will bear the brunt of the impact, despite the fact that the number of foreign tourists increased during the first six months of the year, because that is offset by the drop in the number of domestic tourists visiting the city since last April.
Lao authorities added that the current rainy season further contributes to the drop in the number of tourists. For their part, many businesses such as restaurants, guesthouses, and hotels have reduced their prices up to 70% in an effort to attract more tourists but to no avail. The swine A-H1N1 influenza outbreaks, happening across the world and in Laos itself where an Australian was found infected with the flu, has also negatively affected Luang Prabang's tourism sector. As a result, Luang Prabang authorities projected that the number of foreign visitors to their city will surely drop more than 10% from last year's total.
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok on June 27, 2009. Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao, or read our Lao text. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam.)