VIENTIANE, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Tourism injected more than 724 million U.S. dollars into Laos' national budget during 2016, according to the latest data from the Tourism Development Department under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism on Sunday.
The revenue generated by tourism in 2016 dropped slightly from the figure of more than 725 million U.S. dollars generated by the sector in 2015. The decrease was partly due to the fact that foreign tourist arrivals to Laos declined in 2016, reported Lao state-run media Vientiane Times.
Laos received just more than 4.23 million foreign visitors in 2016, down from 4.68 million foreigners in 2015. Visitors from Thailand and Vietnam, the main sources of foreign visitors to Laos, dropped remarkably by more than 400,000 and 100,000 people respectively.
The number of foreign visitors had fallen because Thai authorities have been promoting domestic tours vigorously, encouraging people there to travel within Thailand through promotional incentives. Foreign tourist arrivals to Laos in previous years were also boosted by a large number of Vietnamese workers who entered the country on tourist visas.
After governments in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional bloc of which Laos is a member, tightened measures to regulate foreign workers, it is believed that Vietnamese workers were more reluctant to enter Laos, further contributing to the drop, according to the report.
Tourism services have also been deemed inadequate in some respects, including the inability of some drivers and tour guides to speak English, which can pose problems when visitors need to get to places.
Meanwhile, tour operators have suggested activities and improvements to tourist sites to help promote the year 2018 as Visit Laos Year.