Lao tourism partners slash prices to woo local travellers

Laotians visiting the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang. - VT/ANN

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Tour and hospitality business operators have massively cut the cost of their services and package tours to make prices more affordable and encourage Lao people to take vacations around the country.

The special promotions now on offer are targeted at local visitors in a bid to make up for the absence of foreign tourists during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some businesses have reduced the cost of their services threefold or more, President of Luang Prabang province’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bounthieng Soulivan, told reporters this week.

“Some hotels that previously charged US$200-500 for a room have reduced the rate to just US$70-80, ” he said, adding that such a huge drop in price was unprecedented.

There are also additional attractive offers such as free pick-up services from and to airports.

The changes are being made to enable businesses to survive at a time when tourism has been virtually wiped out by Covid-19, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue.

An initial survey suggested that Covid-19 had slashed the income of tour and hospitality businesses in Luang Prabang, Laos’ world heritage town, by about US$20 million, Bounthieng said.

Tourism-related businesses, whose main customers are foreigners, have been particularly hard hit as foreign nationals have been unable to travel. This has led to businesses revising the cost of their services.

Bounthieng said the price cuts had been made “to match the purchase power of Lao people”.

My Dream Boutique Resort and Spa in Luang Prabang has reduced its room rate from US$150 previously to just US$30-40, its director Somnuek Bounsa said.

“We offer several promotions. Food prices have also been reduced, ” he told Lao and foreign media this week.

The two businessmen spoke to reporters during the ‘Fam Trip for Lao Media and International Bloggers in the Lao PDR’ which visited northern Oudomxay and Luang Prabang provinces to promote the Lao Thiao Laos (Lao Visit Laos) initiative.

The government is partnering with businesses to promote domestic tourism in a bid to revive the tourism industry after it collapsed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Luang Prabang View Hotel has actively participated in the Lao Thiao Lao campaign and hopes its price cuts will bring in more Lao people and foreigners living in Laos.

“We have reduced our room rates and the cost of using our meeting room and swimming pool by more than 50 per cent, ” said the hotel’s general manager Sengmany Chaila, adding that the cost of food and drinks had been reduced by 15 per cent.

Tourism operators say this is a good opportunity for Lao people to travel around the country because they can now enjoy high-end services at a very affordable price.

Nam Kat Yor La Pa, a popular visitor attraction in Oudomxay province, which previously targeted foreign tourists, is now seeking to attract more local holiday-makers and has revised the cost of its package tour to suit their pockets.

“We have reduced the cost [of our package tour] by about threefold or 70 percent, ” President of the FACET (Forestry Area Conservation Ecological Tourism) Company Limited and the developer of Nam Kat Yor La Pa, Mr Somphet Maopaseuth, said.

Those working in the tourism industry said their businesses had recovered slightly thanks to the Lao Thaio Laos campaign.

The ‘Fam Trip for Lao Media and International Bloggers in the Lao PDR’, which was organised by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism’s Tourism Marketing Department and Media Department in collaboration with the Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was part of the campaign.

Sponsored by the Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth Project II, the Fam Trip brought together more than 10 reporters including some from Chinese and Vietnamese television, radio and newspapers. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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