Neighbouring nations to launch Visit Laos-China Year 2019

Laos and China have agreed to launch Visit Laos-China Year 2019 to boost tourist arrivals between the two neighbours, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged the launch during talks in Shanghai where the Lao premier is attending the China International Import Expo, which runs until November 10.

Authorities from both sides have engaged in talks for some time after the idea was initiated, with further discussions taking place to work out the details.

“Once the government gives official assignment and guidance, we will proceed and work with the Chinese side to draw up a plan in detail,” Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Ounthuang Khaophanh, told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The deputy minister was optimistic that the planned Visit Laos-China Year 2019 programme – the first of its kind – would be significant in bolstering foreign visitor arrivals as tourism authorities can keep the ongoing Visit Laos Year 2018 promotional campaign alive.

Laos, which has suffered a decline in international visitor arrivals in recent years, has targeted more Chinese tourists who are considered high-end visitors, to supplement the decrease in visitors from other countries.

Lao authorities have set a target of increasing Chinese tourist arrivals from almost 640,000 in 2017 to 1 million by 2020, Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department, Mr Soun Manivong, said.

More and more visitors from the world’s second largest economy have been taking vacations in neighbouring Laos. Over the first nine months of this year, Laos received 568,851 Chinese tourists, an increase of 35 percent compared to the same period last year.

Many other countries are also targeting Chinese tourists for their high purchasing power. It was reported that about 120 million Chinese take vacations abroad each year, representing a large global tourism market share.

Mr Soun said Chinese visitors have surpassed Americans in the number of outbound vacations and spending per person for the past four consecutive years.

Lao and Chinese authorities previously held talks on a preliminary rough plan for the Laos-China Year 2019 programme, with both sides expecting to organise promotional activities in major cities of each country, including tourism fairs and business-matching seminars.

Lao authorities intend to organise such events in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hunan, Beijing and Kunming, Mr Soun said.

“Lao and Chinese authorities have also agreed on the need to better facilitate and quicken the visa issuing process at border crossings,” the director added.

Some 22 out of 27 international border crossings issue visas on arrival.

Mr Soun said Chinese nationals wanting to travel to Laos can also apply for a visa at Lao consulates in Kunming, Guangzhou, Hunan and Shanghai as well as at the Lao Embassy in Beijing. Laos has direct flights to China’s Kunming, Guangzhou, Hunan, Changzhou, Changsha, Jinghong and Chengdu to facilitate holiday-makers.

By Times Reporters
(Last update: November 08
, 2018)