07 Oct A budding tourism sector
The country is blessed with lush and spectacular landscapes as well as rich tradition and culture and is becoming a magnet for tourists from the West over the last few years. Tourists are attracted to flagship destinations such as the Mekong River, the UNESCO World Heritage sites at Luang Prabang, Vat Phou, and the Xiangkhoang Plateau. Many of these attractions have been listed as leading destinations globally by several popular travel magazines.
Travellers to Laos flock to its natural beauties of caves, forests and never ending waterways. The landlocked country is free from the commercialization of tourism faced by neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. And that is one of the reasons why it is counted among the best tourist destinations in Asia. Although small in size, Laos has endless offerings from kayaking, cycling, zip lining, trekking to more serene temple visits for spiritual tourists. Although popularly known as the “Land of million elephants”, Laos has hardly any elephants left. Tourism is increasingly becoming a growth driver and the government expects the sector to add US$3.3 BN to the country’s annual GDP by 2028.
Moderate inflow of tourist visitors that year, mainly from China, following the completion of the China-Laos railway in late 2021, although we do not expect services exports to return to pre-pandemic levels that year. The government is expected to rollout the coronavirus vaccine which will boost appetite for investment in Laos and for travel, which will support a recovery in tourism. The government may prioritise key areas such as tourist sights, major cities and border areas, which would support the resumption of trade, tourism and investment.