FOREIGN tourist arrivals to Laos in 2013 hit an all-time high of 3.8 million as the country enjoyed a boom in tourism.
According to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, last year’s arrivals exceeded official targets of 3.4 million for 2013.
Visitors from ASEAN numbered over three million in 2013 or 340,000 more arrivals than in 2012. Figures from the ministry also show an increase of 28,000 arrivals from Europe and 10,000 arrivals each from the Americas and the Middle East.
Ed Pettitt, marketing manager of Buffalo Tours Vietnam, said: “The statistics from the ministry are very positive, and we have personally seen a jump in demand for soft adventure day tours outside of Luang Prabang – going against the trends of previous years. Thus we are developing some new products set to launch in 2014. Our community project, the Seuang River Experience, has proven very popular in 2013.”
Laurent Granier, general manager of Laos Mood Travel, commented: “At present our Western clients do not stay at the same properties as the influx of Korean visitors we are now experiencing, so there is little mix of travel cultures and hence no disruption with differing consumption and behavioral patterns. Though with the diversification of outbound markets, primarily Asian markets with Lao Airlines reaching China and Korea, it is an issue that may arise in the future.”
Laos saw 3.1 million arrivals in 2012, which was a 14 per cent increase over 2011 and the first time the country broke the three million mark.
China was Laos’ top source market in 2012 with 190,000 tourists, but Thailand stole the thunder in 2013 with 1.9 million visitors.