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Visit Laos Year campaign expected to boost tourism

Laos expects to see a 7 percent increase in tourist arrivals this year as the country is running its Visit Laos Year campaign.

According to a forecast by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, the number of tourist arrivals is expected to reach 2.86 million this year, about a 7 percent increase compared to 2011 thanks to the 2012 Visit Laos Year promotion.

The ministry projects that the tourism sector will generate foreign exchange earnings of about US$427 million this year, an increase from US$399 million in 2011.

The tourism revenue is calculated based on the estimation that tourists from the US and Europe will spend an average of US$75 a day, while tourists from Thailand, Vietnam and China will spend an average of US$52, US$20 and US$30 per day, respectively.

About 2.5 million tourists visited Laos in 2010, with 60 percent coming from Thailand, 17 percent from Vietnam, 6 percent from China, 7 percent from Europe, and 2.68 percent from America and Canada.

The government launched the Visit Laos Year 2012 campaign on January 1, hoping to attract foreign visitors and encourage the private sector to invest in and improve tourism-related businesses such as travel agents and hotels. Vietnam travel agencies said the government will invest about 6 billion kip in the campaign.

They said the ministry will seek cooperation from provincial authorities to associate traditional festivals with the Visit Laos Year promotion, with the major festivals taking place after the end of Buddhist Lent in October.

Other festivals include the Elephant Festival in Xayaboury province this month, the Lao New Year Festival in April, and the Rocket Festival in May.

Last week the That Phonh Festival, Vat Phou Festival and Sikhot Stupa Festival took place in Savannakhet, Champassak and Khammuan provinces.

These events were held in co njunction with the Visit Laos Year campaign and attracted several thousand visitors.

Travel agents and hotel industry representatives welcomed the government's move to boost the tourism industry, saying this year's special promotion would help to offset the negative impact of the economic downturn in Europe and the US.

They said they expected to see a minor drop in the number of American and European tourists visiting Asia as they can no longer depend on secure employment and income.

Lao Association of Travel Agents President Mr Bouakhao Phomsouvanh said he expects to see more tourists from Asia this year. Lao Airlines has opened a direct flight to Singapore and is planning flights to other destinations in China and the Republic of Korea.

He said political stability and peace make Laos an attractive tourist destination in Asia.

A UK-based travel magazine named Luang Prabang a top tourist city in 2011. Tourists love the charm of Luang Prabang's Lao and French colonial buildings.

Vietnam Travel Company, Vietnam Travel Agency




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