More than 2,100 tourist sites in Laos attracted a large number of both domestic and foreign tourists last year, according to a 2015-2016 report made by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
The report was unveiled during an Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s (NA) by Souphan Keomixay, Lao Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr. Souphan Keomixay.
Currently, almost 1,200 ecotourism sites, over 600 cultural sites and almost 300 historical sites and two world heritage towns are earmarked as destinations for tourists visiting the country.
Last year, the country completed a survey of 12 tourist attractions sites, allocating and defining their boundaries. Three of them have been prioritised, including Tad Champee, a waterfall in Paksong District, Champassak Province, Pou Kham Cave in Vang Vieng district, Vientiane Province and Namueang hot spring in Houa Mueang district, Huaphan province.
The tourism policy sets guidelines for a sustainable tourism development, aiming to attract more tourists to a greater variety of Laotian regions and provinces.
A main drive is to further open the country to tourists by making it increasingly accessible. For example, 22 out of 27 international crossing border checkpoints and four international airports provide visa-on-arrival facilities for international tourists while citizens from 43 countries are exempted of visa.
In addition, the government is also promoting investment to build up infrastructure, including airports and road construction linking provinces and neighbouring countries .
Last year, more than 4.2 million tourists visited Laos, a decrease by 10 percent compared to 2015, generating revenues of over US$ 700 million.
The decline has been blamed to restrictions from Laos neighbours, but also to the country high cost of living as well as to more expensive services than in neighbouring countries.
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Bosengkham Vongdara remains optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in the People’s Democratic Republic. The Minister expects that Laos will welcome some six million international tourists by 2020.