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Lao Tourism Enhancement

Just days before Lao PDR’s tourism officials head for the world’s largest travel show in Berlin they revised the 2014 tourist arrivals target to 3.9 million trips.

Thadeua in Laos

Thadeua in Laos

Tourism industry executives will attend ITB Berlin 5 March hoping they can convince European-based tour operators to book more trips to Laos this year and earn more revenue from it fledging tourism industry.

But before they left for Berlin, they confirmed, Wednesday, that the country’s 2013 arrivals had already surpassed estimates set for 2015.

A report in Vientiane Times, the official voice of the government, said the 2015 forecast stood at 3.7 million.

But according to Bounthavy Sisava of the National Tourism Administration the country already welcomed 3.79 million tourists in 2013 and earned US$13.5 million (Bt430 million) in tourism related revenue.

The performance prompted a review of targets with the government is now saying a 3.9 million target is achievable in 2014.

More than half of the visits in 2013 were sourced in Thailand. It supplied more than 2 million trips. Critics say they are predominantly overland visits generating low revenue for the country.

Tourism officials, who attended the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Kuching Malaysia, last January, said there should be a shift in emphasis to high yield markets such as Europe and Japan to ensure tourism revenue grows at a much higher rate than arrivals.

Despite the prolonged political turmoil in Thailand officials said they were confident Thai people would still travel in big numbers to Laos, mainly on small group holiday package overland to Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

An overland trip to Luang Prabang, ex-Bangkok is about half of the price of a trip based on roundtrip airfares.

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