Vientiane - Laos has experienced a remarkable increase in international tourism, attracting over 2.4 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of this year, a 285% jump compared to the same period last year. This surge marks a significant milestone in the country's tourism sector, reflecting its growing appeal as a travel destination.
According to Vietnam News Agency, Culture, and Tourism of Laos, the majority of these tourists originated from neighboring countries, with nearly 1 million from Thailand, over 600,000 from Vietnam, and nearly 480,000 from China. The remainder of the visitors came from various regions including the Asia-Pacific area, Europe, and the United States.
The ministry attributes this surge in tourism to improved accessibility, primarily due to faster travel on highways and the Lao-China railway. The railway, in particular, has become a popular mode of transportation for tourists. Enhanced connectivity has made it easier for travelers to explore Laos' diverse attractions.
A notable factor contributing to this tourism boom is the concept of “dispersed tourism,” which encourages exploring less-visited destinations, particularly in rural areas known for their natural beauty. For example, in southern Laos, the Four Thousand Islands area is gaining popularity for its breathtaking landscapes and waterfalls.
In anticipation of Visit Laos Year 2024 and its ASEAN chairmanship in the same year, the Lao government is actively promoting new tourist destinations. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to boost the country’s tourism profile on the international stage.
To further stimulate growth in the tourism sector, the Lao government and local businesses are engaging in international exhibitions and ASEAN tourism fairs. With an ambitious target of 4.6 million visitors by 2024, Laos is aiming to generate around 712 million USD in tourism revenue.
Past initiatives, such as Visit Laos Year and Visit Laos-China Year, have also been successful in attracting tourists. The Visit Laos Year 2018 campaign brought in 4.1 million tourists, an 8.2% increase from 2017, while the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 saw a 9% increase from the previous year, with 4.58 million visitors.
This trend underscores Laos' growing prominence as a destination for international travelers, bolstered by its natural attractions, improved connectivity, and strategic tourism initiatives.