Following two years of tourism decline, Laos Tourism has launched a bold new campaign to reverse declining tourism numbers. The Visit Laos Year 2018 marketing initiative kicked off at the end of last year and, according to Sounh Manivong, General Director of Laos Department of Tourism, the first effects are already being felt across the industry.
“We hope to finally reach five million international arrivals this year while we attracted close to four million travellers last year. Our first figures for 2018 are again positive,” said Manivong.
A special budget in the range of US$3 million has been attributed for the promotion, a doubling of the normal budget given to tourism by the government. “With this budget, we doubled the size of our booth in Berlin. A Laos Week will also be organised in May in Tokyo while we will support a new Laotian Gastronomy Festival in July in Vientiane. We also strengthened our efforts to promote more actively Laotian traditional festivals overseas,” added Manivong. However, the biggest change will come from a new approach to attracting tourists. “Openness is the key words. Openness of our borders by providing free visas to more travellers,” Manivong explained, adding: “We recently granted visa-free entry to four Scandinavian countries. Our prime minister is now on the verge of announcing more European countries to join that scheme.” “Openness is also about more open borders with less administrative hassle, easier immigration formalities, an open sky policy for all airlines. I am confident we are on the right way,” said Manivong.