Tourism officials of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) met yesterday in Vientiane Capital to discuss the development of regional tourism products in CLMV countries.
“The two-day workshop aims to create an exchange network of information on tourism for state, private companies, experts and international organizations to ensure that Laos’ tourism is integrated into the regional tourism market,” said Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bouangeun Saphouvong.
The number of international tourists visiting Laos decreased by 10% from over 4.68 million in 2015 to 4.2 million last year.
The reduction in the number of visitors has been attributed to the decline in the number of Thai and Vietnamese visitors which usually share 50% of the number of foreign visitors to Laos.
Meanwhile, the number of visitors from Australia, Germany, Russia and Italy increased in number.
The tourism industry is one of the most important and fastest growing industries in Laos representing a 14% share of overall GDP, US$688 million in tourism revenue, and almost half a million jobs or 12% of the workforce in the country.
“The continuous success of the Lao tourism sector critically depends on its ability to attract high-spending foreign visitors who spend a significant amount of time within the country. In this regard, Laos is already successfully promoting itself as a tourism destination and continues to strengthen its national branding and marketing efforts,” said Project Director of the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation’s (GIZ) Initiative for ASEAN Integration Kim Nguyen Van.
He said that many tourists didn’t see Laos as a single travel destination but perceived the country as part of a regional tourism destination, together with its neighboring countries including Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.
According to statistics of the Lao Tourism Development Department, around 75% of international tourists, especially the high-spending tourism segment, combine their visit to Laos with at least one other Southeast Asian country.
“The improvement of existing and the development of additional regional tourism products will play a key role in this endeavour,” said Mr Nguyen adding that using such regional products to link more Lao tourism destinations to highly attractive sites in its neighbouring countries will generate higher numbers of visitor arrivals to the country, higher visitor expenditures and higher revenues for the Lao tourism sector.
“As a German development agency, we are proud to support this process, not only in Laos, but also in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, thereby facilitating good regional cooperation and a strategic approach of the four countries for regional tourism product development,” added Mr Nguyen.
Source: Lao News Agency