Laos continues to experience record-breaking tourism growth, with another sharp rise in visitor numbers in 2014.
According to the latest official data from the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism, reported by Vientiane Times, the landlocked Southeast Asian country welcomed 4.16 million international visitors last year, 10% more than the 3.78m arrivals recorded in 2013.
This marks the first time Laos has exceeded four million visitors in a single year and means that the country continues to exceed its own tourism estimates. Laos is already well ahead of its arrivals targets, which was previously set at 3.75m visitors for 2015.
The ministry’s data showed that neighbouring Thailand still contributes by far the largest number of visitors to Laos. A total of 2.04m Thais crossed the border into Laos last year, although this did mark a slight 0.8% decline compared to 2013.
Another of Laos’ neighbours, Vietnam, ranked second in terms of arrivals, contributing 1.11m visitors in 2014 – up 21.8% year-on-year. Combined, Thailand and Vietnam comprised more than 75% of total visitor arrivals to Laos in 2014.
The strongest growth however, was experienced from China. A total of 422,440 Chinese nationals travelled to Laos last year, up 72.4% compared to 2013.
Arrivals from Europe declined 1.5% to 209,331, and visitor numbers from the Americas edged up 0.2% to 86,027.
The average length-of-stay in Laos last year was eight days, and this is one of the main areas the country is trying to address. According to a strategic plan drawn up by the ministry’s tourism marketing department, Laos is planning to increase its average length-of-stay to 10 days by 2020. By this time, the country is also hoping to generate US$1 billion per year from its tourism industry.
Revenue figures for 2014 have not yet been released.