The pandemic’s rise has impacted a number of sectors all over the world, one of them being the travel and tourism industry. In order to ensure their citizens’ health and safety, several nations closed their borders and continue to do so. While some have lifted restrictions for vaccinated visitors, others have based their travel bans on the country of origin. This has overall impacted international travels to a great extent and thus, the tourism sector. One of the victims of the same is Laos that has experienced severe impact on its tourism industry.
While several restrictions were imposed on travelling of foreign visitors, the country has now allowed fully vaccinated foreign travellers to enter the nation. While there are a number of reasons behind the decision, the major one is to revive tourism. This means that Laos visa for Indian and individuals of other nationalities is now easier to obtain. So if you have been thinking about visiting the country, you should definitely consider the same now. Nonetheless, you must also be aware of the travel restrictions that are imposed on travellers along with the necessary requirements. In this article, we will not only discuss about these but also the restrictions that have been lifted by the government of Lao.
Tourism Sector of Laos Pre, Post and during Covid
The government of Lao has decided to continue with the program of tourism in the next year to invite the foreign tourists and Lao residents who have been fully vaccinated. This is especially applicable for South Korea and China wishing to travel across the nation. The country has started a program named Lao Thiao Lao which means Lao Visit Laos and it is hoped that it will grab the attention of a minimum of 1.9 million domestic travellers along with over 1 million foreign travellers in the next years. In case the initiative of tourism goes further, it is anticipated that accommodation and restaurant related businesses will augment by about 1.8 percent as well.
The campaign was launched the previous year for encouraging the citizens of the nation to explore. In the first 2 quarters of the year, a minimum of 615,000 nationals of Lao made trips, which was an augmentation of about 3.9 percent as compared to same time in 2019. Nonetheless, the outbreak of COVID in 2021 resulted in the shutdown of tour companies, guesthouses, hotels, and various tourist attractions of the nation. Furthermore, several key events were postponed or cancelled, which includes the Lao New Year festival and the National Games as well. Also, travel restrictions meant that the travellers from foreign nations could not visit the country. However, it is now hoped that the activities associated with tourism that have begun again will attract more visitors to the nation.
Allowing Foreign Travellers for Promoting Tourism
With the rich biodiversity and natural resources, Laos can provide a chance to promote tourism based on nature for inclusive and sustainable growth that will result in livelihood opportunities and green jobs, green growth, and an overall green recovery.
With the existing situation of fighting against a high number of everyday COVID cases, health safety for all the private and public sectors along with travellers is imperative if the travel bubble is entirely reopened in the future.
Due to COVID, the country experienced an extreme lowering of tourist traffic by 75% in 2020. This led to a loss of 80% of the overall revenue generated from tourism due to the travel restrictions associated with COVID-19. This adversely impacted the economy on a great scale and thus the livelihoods of the people as well.
Travelling to Lao
The country’s government has suspended all kinds of visas, including on arrival visa. The Laos-Vietnam, Laos-Thailand, and Laos-Cambodia land borders continue to be closed. Also, charter flights will be made available occasionally and the country will publicise them through their channels of social media.
General Advice for Travelling
It is advised against to travelling to XiengKhouang Province along with the border areas of Lao-Vietnamese. It is therefore best to look for proper travel advisory prior to travelling to the nation even if you’re fully vaccinated and adhere to the guidelines. The best way is to consult the hotel management, tour operator representative, or local contacts in Laos.
The initiative of tourism recovery roadmap for 2021 to 2025 is supported by the UNDP. The launch, which is going to take place in Lao’s capital Vientiane, will introduce ways in which the crucial issues associated with the tourism industry can be addressed. These will overall end up being extremely crucial for the nation’s tourism and travel sector.
The roadmap covers majorly 3 policy choices, including the support and promotion of domestic tourism, the greening of tourism for friendliness toward environment and better recovery in the longer term, and for establishing travel bubbles with nations that are at lower risks.