Domestic tourists generate US$85 million in six months for Laos: report

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): During the first six months of this year, the number of domestic tourists was recorded at 756,338, generating more than 85.42 million US dollars for the economy, according to a statistical report on tourism.

The largest number of local travelers visited Khammuan province (161,092), followed by Savannakhet province (120,357), Luang Prabang (98,470), and Vientiane province (71,110).

It was estimated that each tourist spent an average of US$45 per day, according to the report recently issued by the Tourism Development Directorate of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Government encourages more Laotian citizens to travel around the country.–Photo Lao Economic Daily

In April alone, more than 174,860 Laotian citizens traveled to different provinces and tourist attractions to celebrate the Laotian New Year.

When Laos closed its borders in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism industry was hit hard as foreign tourists were no longer allowed to enter Laos due to travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus. .

Travel restrictions coupled with border closures led to a sudden and dramatic drop in the number of foreign tourists, which dropped by more than 80 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

To make up for the loss of income from foreign tourists, the government has promoted domestic tourism through the “Lao-Visit-Laos” campaign in a bid to encourage more Lao citizens to travel the country.

As a result, more than 1.58 million Laotian citizens were recorded vacationing in the country in 2020, spending more than US$122.74 million, according to the Tourism Development Department.

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But the number of travelers fell to 828,592 in 2021, and the amount spent by them fell to about $93.58 million.

“Tourism in Laos has been severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, which was reflected in the number of tourists and receipts, which fell significantly in 2021 compared to 2020. The number of domestic tourists fell from 2.3 million in 2019 to 828,592 in 2021. ”, the report stated.

According to the Tourism Statistical Report, the number of domestic tourists increased steadily from 2016 to 2018, but then began to decline in 2019.

In 2016, some 1.98 million Lao citizens took trips to destinations within the country. The figure rose to 2.23 million in 2017 and 2.8 million in 2018, before falling to 2.3 million in 2019, 1.58 million in 2020 and 828,592 in 2021.

From January to December 2021, the number of domestic tourists decreased by 47.6% compared to 2020. The provinces with the highest number of domestic tourists in 2021 were Khammuan, Oudomxay and Vientiane.

With the launch of the Laos-China Railway last December, a highway that runs between Vientiane and Vangvieng, and the reopening of the country in May, the number of domestic and international tourists is now on the rise, helping revive the faltering economy in 2022.

Domestic tourism improved steadily after the government lifted all travel restrictions and authorized the reopening of hotels, guest houses, restaurants and tourist attractions.

However, with the current economic situation and rising prices, it is a big challenge for many Laotians to spend more money on travel and boost local economies.

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