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Tourist Arrivals to Luang Prabang rise despite drop in arrivals to Laos

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

While Laos or officially Lao PDR registered a 10% decrease in total international tourist arrivals in 2016, mostly due to a contraction in tourist arrivals from neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, Luang Prabang broke a new record in tourist arrivals last year, up by almost 6% over 2015.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is the historical capital of the ancient Laotian kingdom of Lane Xang (‘The Kingdom of a Million Elephants’) located along the old Silk Road. With its exceptional cultural and historical heritage, Luang Prabang is a major tourism destination in Lao PDR. The city experienced a strong increase in international tourist arrivals following its inception into UNESCO World Heritage List back to 1995.

Luang Prabang welcomed over 469,000 foreign travelers, a growth of 5.3% compared to last year. The destination has experienced a steady growth in, total foreign visitors’ arrivals. Between 2010 and 2016, international tourist arrivals increased by 205%.

Luang Prabang total arrivals generated 6.3% of all international visitors’ arrivals back to 2014, reaching 7.6% in 2015 and 9.5% in 2016. Luang Prabang is now Lao PDR third most visited province by foreign travellers in 2016 after Vientiane Capital and Savannakhet. The province moved up by three ranks, taking over Champassak, Vientiane Province and Khammouane last year

Most Visited Provinces in Lao PDR by Total Arrivals (domestic and international) in 2016

Province Arrivals Evolution 2016/2015
Vientiane Capital 1,643,892 -5.41%
Savannakhet 866,630 -22.6%
Luang Prabang 643,319 5.88%
Champassak 621,870 1.80%
Vientiane Province 589,948 5.17%
Khammouane 538,037 3.66%

(Source: Lao Tourism Development Department)

The good performance of Luang Prabang compared to other destinations in Lao PDR is due to the high share of overseas travelers to the Province. While overseas arrivals represented 8.43% of all international arrivals to Lao PDR in 2016, overseas arrivals to Luang Prabang represented 60.1% of all international arrivals to the Province.

Top Visitors Markets to Luang Prabang by Nationality in 2016

Country Total Arrivals

Growth 2016/2015

(%)

Market share in total foreign arrivals (%)
Total domestic + Int’l 643,319 5.88  
Total International 469,586 5.32 100
China PRC 63,290 4.11 13.48
Thailand 61,406 0.33 13.08
South Korea 34,178 1.77 7.28
UK 33,568 4.06 7.15
France 31,330 4.66 6.67
Germany 30,144 4.34 6.42
USA 28,560 3.50 6.08
Canada 21,856 5.88 4.65
Australia 21,672 10.90 4.62
Japan 18,073 -6.00 3.84
Russia 14,605 2.41 3.11
Switzerland 9,246 2.80 1.97

(Source: Lao Tourism Development Department)

The opening of more non-stop international flights as well as more international hotel chains and boutique hotels will continue to have a positive impact on Luang Prabang tourism evolution in the years to come. In 2017, Luang Prabang is likely to pass for the first time the half-million foreign tourist arrivals’ mark.

In 2016, Luang Prabang had 49 hotels and 249 guest houses representing a total of 4,844 rooms and 6,900 beds. Hotels alone had a capacity of 3,474 beds in 2,340 rooms. Luang Prabang has Lao PDR largest hotel capacity after Vientiane Capital. With Khammouane Province, Luang Prabang room occupancy is the highest in the country, reaching on average 75% in 2016 (up by two percent points over 2015) compared to 61% nationwide and 56% for Vientiane Capital.

International chains include AccorHotels (M-Gallery and Sofitel), Aman Resorts and Victoria Hotels & Resorts. A Pullman Hotel (Accor) is planned. Click here to see and book some hotels in Luang Prabang.

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