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Laos poised to attract more Chinese tourists

Updated:2018-05-25 10:22:39   vientianetimes.org.la

Chinese tourists made 130 million overseas trips last year, with their total spending amounting to US$155 billion. If Laos receives 10 or 20 percent of these travellers, it will be more than enough to give a massive boost to the tourism industry.

Laos shares its borders with five countries: China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Now, officials are willing to set up attractions to entice more Chinese investors and tourists to come across the border to Laos.

To make it easier for visitors to travel to Laos, many countries now operate direct flights to Laos, including some charter flights.

This includes more flights from China. Previously, only China Eastern Airlines operated flights but more recently they have been joined by Sichuan Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

More and more Chinese people are flying to destinations across Laos, and tourist attractions in China are also proving popular with Lao people.

Foreign countries operating direct flights to Laos include China, Vietnam, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.

Lao Ambassador to China MrsVandee Boutthasavong said she had seen flights from Thailand to China filled with Chinese passengers when she flew that route.

“A Lao person working in Beijing said that we want to bring passengers like this to Laos,” she said.

The latest figures mark a year-on-year increase of 7 percent and 5 percent respectively, according to the China Tourism Academy, an online travel agency company.

While escorted group tours remain the first choice for many Chinese, self-guided independent travel is gaining popularity, the data showed.

The economic impacts of China’s mobile population are already being felt worldwide as more Chinese opt to travel overseas.

According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation, the number of global travellers will exceed 1.8 billion by 2030. China is considered the world’s fastest growing tourism market and will play a key role in the sector’s development.

Chinese visitors are steadily increasing in number at the country’s main tourist destinations. Nowadays, China has over 200 airports nationwide.

More than 639,180 Chinese nationals visited Laos last year, an increase of 17 percent compared to 2016, and visitor numbers are expected to rise in the future.

In the first three months of this year, 221,800 Chinese visited Laos, an increase of 32 percent from last year, while the number of Lao visitors to China also increased.

Laos and China have vowed to step up cooperation to promote tourism between the two countries with the aim of attracting more visitors.

That was the message at the Laos-China Tourism Forum held in Vientiane yesterday when participants shared their experiences in the promotion of bilateral tourism.

Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, told the forum that tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world while noting that Laos had stepped up its cooperation with many countries, especially China, to bolster tourism in Laos.

“This forum is important because it will multiply tourism cooperation between our two countries and promote tourism as part of the Belt and Road strategy,” he said.

“In addition, Laos is teaming up with China to organize Lao-Chinese Tourism Year 2019, which will have multiple benefits for both countries,” he added.

Oudomxay province is planning to attract another 2 million Chinese visitors and is looking to steadily increase visitors to the province’s main tourist destinations.

Provincial Deputy Governor Mr Somchith Panyasack said China’s Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture receives about 20 million visitors a year.

He hopes about 10 percent of Chinese tourists or 2 million people will travel to Oudomxay each year from Xishuangbanna.

If this number of people were to visit Oudomxay from Xishuangbanna, it is envisaged that the province’s economic growth would increase rapidly.

However, there was concern about whether there would be sufficient accommodation for such a large influx of tourists.

Editor: John Li

Keywords:   Laos Chinese tourists