The number of foreign tourists visiting Laos dropped in 2016 after several successive years of visitor growth, according to the Tourism Development Department of the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
Laos registered average annual growth in foreign tourist arrivals of 10.7 percent on average over the past five years. But last year, just over 4.23 million foreign visitors came to the Southeast Asian country, representing a drop of 10 percent compared to 2015, the department said Thursday.
Visitors from Thailand and Vietnam, the main sources of foreign visitors to Laos, fell significantly by more than 400,000 and 100,000 people respectively.
An official in charge of the department’s analysis section said that the Thai authorities had been encouraging people to take tours in their homeland by offering special incentives.
The official also said Lao tourist authorities needed to do more to better promote tourism, such as by creating a comprehensive website where all tourism-related information is available.
More World Heritage Sites
The Lao government is accelerating its preparation of key documents necessary to secure World Heritage Status for the Plain of Jars in northern Xieng Khuang Province and the Hin Nam No Protected Area in southern Khammuane Province.
Currently there are two World Heritage sites in Laos including the town of Luang Prabang listed by UNESCO in 1995, and Vat Phou and associated ancient settlements within the Champassak cultural landscape, which was nominated by UNESCO in 2001.