VIENTIANE, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The latest Lao government dada showed tourist arrivals fall in the period from January to September in 2017 except that more Chinese are visiting Laos, local daily Vientiane reported Wednesday.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Laos in the first nine months of this year dropped by 9.1 percent to just over 2.88 million people compared to the same period in 2016. The Chinese are the only nationality whose numbers increased, according to the latest statistics from the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
More than 429,000 Chinese visited Laos, an increase of 5 percent compared to the first nine months of 2016.
Lao authorities blame the global economic slowdown and uncertain situations in many parts of the world for the decline in foreign tourist arrivals.
These include the ongoing fighting against Islamic State in the Middle East, the immigration crisis and disputes in other regions.
Deputy Director of the Tourism Research and Administration Division under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Bounthavy Sisava, said that the relative high cost of living in Laos could also be blamed for the decline in tourist arrivals.
Tourist numbers from all the major regions dropped in the first nine months of this year, following a decline in tourist arrivals last year after many consecutive years of rising numbers.
The number of visitors from the Asia-Pacific region fell by 7 percent to just over 2.7 million compared to the first nine months of last year.
Holiday-makers from ASEAN countries also dropped by 7 percent, to just over 2.1 million people.
Visitors from two other major regions -- Europe and the United States -- fell by 34 and 35 percent to 113,982 and 43,224 people respectively.
Laos has also witnessed a considerable drop in the number of high-end tourists from countries like the South Korea, Japan, and Germany by 17, 38 and 37 percent respectively.
Thai nationals continued to dominate the Lao tourist market share. Although the number of Thais vacationing in Laos fell by seven percent to just over 1.3 million people, Thais accounted for almost 48 percent of overall foreign tourist arrivals.
Foreign tourist arrivals for the whole of 2017 are expected to fall by 11.2 percent compared to 2016, following last year's drop of 10 percent.
In an effort to bring in more tourists in the years to come, the Lao government has launched Visit Laos Year 2018 which officially began on Oct. 28.