VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Hotel and guesthouse owners in Luang Prabang are working to ensure their properties will meet the expectations of Chinese tourists, who are expected to cross the border into Laos in large numbers after the Chinese government took the decision to allow its citizens to travel, starting on Jan 8.
Officials at the Luang Prabang provincial Department of Information, Culture and Tourism said they are teaming up with other entities to improve accommodation and hospitality services, in anticipation of a surge in visitor numbers.
Authorities at the Boten International Checkpoint on the Chinese border said many Chinese have already entered Laos while some families have returned home to China.
Many hotels and restaurants in the popular tourist hotspot are hiring staff who can speak both English and Chinese, in readiness for the expected influx of foreign visitors, many of whom are expected to arrive via the Laos-China Railway.
Tourism operators in the town have also refurbished or upgraded several main tourist attractions, while the services provided by hospitality staff have been improved.
Hotels and guesthouses have been almost fully booked due to the large number of visitors coming to Luang Prabang since the Lao government lifted travel restrictions after the Covid-19 outbreak last year.
The revitalisation of tourism in Luang Prabang is expected to result in more investment in hotels and guesthouses, which will help to create jobs for locals.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) was quoted in The Thaiger as saying that at least 3 million Chinese are estimated to travel on the 422-km Laos-China Railway now that the Chinese border with Laos has reopened.
About one million Chinese tourists visited Laos in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic, with 80 percent arriving by air.
The number could reach 4-5 million this year, with most expected to travel on the railway which runs from Kunming to Vientiane.
Luang Prabang is one of the most well-known provinces in Laos and is a top tourist draw because of its old temples, scenic attractions and rural landscapes.
The city recently received a second Asean Clean Tourism Standard award following an assessment of compliance with Asean tourism standards. It was judged to have achieved almost 93 percent of the criteria set under Asean clean tourism standards.
Tad Kuang Xi waterfall in Luang Prabang province also received an Asean Sustainable Tourism Award.