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Laos' 2011 visitor numbers slip below target

Publication Date : 18-05-2012


The year 2011 was not a remarkable year for Lao tourism because the total number of tourists increased by only 8 per cent over 2010, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

This means the number of visitors rose from 2.5 million in 2010 to 2.7 million in 2011, falling below the target of 2.8 million. The reason could be related to the global economic downturn and flooding in Thailand, as that country is traditionally a transit point for visitors to Laos.

Overall, the number of tourist arrivals has risen consistently from 1993 to 2011, with an average annual growth rate of 20.36 per cent.

In 2011, tourists from Asia and the Pacific represented the largest portion of visitors, accounting for 91 per cent of the total. However, this figure was only a 9 per cent increase compared to 2010.

The most remarkable change was the increase in the number of visitors from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and the Republic of Korea, at 58 per cent, 21 per cent, 140 per cent and 125 per cent respectively.

Tourist arrivals from Vietnam reached 561,586 in 2011, an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2010, while tourists from Thailand exceeded 1.5 million, up 4 per cent compared to 2010.

Tourists from Japan jumped to more than 37,880 people in 2011, an increase of 11 per cent, while tourists from the Republic of Korea numbered about 34,700 people, up 27 per cent.

Tourism officials said the number of people arriving from Japan and Korea rose sharply over the past three years. Recently, Lao Airlines started charter flights to Japan and also plans to run charter flights to Korea. These will encourage more Japanese and Koreans to visit Laos.

It is interesting to note that two important Asian markets showed a decrease, including China (down 7 per cent) and India (down 3 per cent).

Meanwhile, visitors from Asean nations represented about 80 per cent of total tourist arrivals, jumping to 2.19 million in 2011, an increase of 10 per cent over 2010.

Overall, the market share for Europe in 2011 maintained almost the same level as in 2010. However, this market increased by only 2 per cent over 2010.

The report stated that half of the European market increased while the other half decreased. The biggest decrease in tourist arrivals was from Greece (down 22 per cent), Denmark (down 11 per cent), the Netherlands (down 9 per cent), Germany (down 6 per cent) and Sweden (down 5 per cent).

In general, the American market also saw a modest increase with only 4 per cent. The most remarkable increase is among other countries which recorded 41 per cent over 2010, followed by Canada (6 per cent increase) and the USA (1 per cent increase).

The market share for the Americas in 2011 was about 3 per cent, with a total of 69,990 tourists. The most important markets from this region were the United States with 50,092 tourists, and Canada with 14,422 tourists.

The government estimates that the number of tourist arrivals in Laos will reach 2.9 million this year, 3.6 million in 2015, and 4.2 million in 2020.


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