VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): The government and private sectors are preparing for the arrival of Chinese visitors after Laos was included in the list of 20 countries authorised to receive Chinese tour groups.
Starting on Feb 6, travel agencies and online tour service providers in China will be allowed to arrange group tours to 20 countries, including Laos.
“We are working in partnership with travel agencies, hotels, and other tourism related businesses to improve facilities and services in readiness for the return of Chinese tour groups,” Director General of the Tourism Management Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Darany Phommavongsa, said.
However, Darany said she did not have any information about how many groups of Chinese tourists are likely to come to Laos after Feb 6.
“We held a meeting with private companies to discuss ways to improve facilities and design activities to entice more Chinese visitors to Laos. Those activities will soon be finalised,” she said.
The Institute of Mass Media, Culture and Tourism is working with its Chinese counterpart to train Chinese language tour guides in response to the expected influx of Chinese visitors.
In November last year, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) was quoted in The Thaiger as saying that at least three million Chinese are estimated to travel on the 422km Laos-China Railway when the mainland permits outbound travel.
Thailand is keen to take advantage of an expected tourist spillover from the railway after China’s borders fully reopen this year, the report added.
Tourism experts predict that several million Chinese tourists will travel to Asean countries and many of them will travel on the Laos-China Railway, which runs from Kunming to Vientiane.
During Visit Laos-China Year in 2019, more than one million Chinese nationals visited Laos, Darany said.
The China Tourism Academy was quoted by Xinhua as saying that Chinese tourists made 155 million international trips in 2019, an increase of 3.3% year on year.
“Our ministry is in the process of reviewing and re-certifying hotels in Vientiane, awarding them different stars. This regrading of hotels is part of the government’s efforts to improve the standard of hotel services in Laos,” she said.
“We are also working with the private sector to improve tourist attractions and the services delivered by the hospitality sector.”
Chinese tourists particularly enjoy Laos’ natural environment and adventure activities, such as zip-lining, which they can experience in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province.
The Chinese are also interested in Laos’ cultural attractions and the world heritage site in Luang Prabang is one of their favourite destinations.
Laos has been ranked by several media organisations including CNN, National Geographic and The Telegraph as one of the world’s top travel destinations for 2023.