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Laos continues to exceed its arrivals targets with a record breaking 2014

Laos has recently reported a 10 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of international arrivals in 2014 with 4.16 million arrivals. In an effort to build on its current success, the Southeast Asian country recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China aimed at developing Laos' infrastructure and services.

Laos continues to exceed its arrivals targets with a record breaking 2014

Official data published by the Laos Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism indicates that the Southeast Asian country welcomed 4.16 million international holidaymakers in 2014, representing a 10 per cent increase from 2013 when Laos recorded 3.78 million arrivals.

This is a particularly important milestone for Laos' tourism industry with this being the first time Laos has surpassed four million arrivals and notably Laos has already exceeded its 2015 target, which was initially set at 3.75 million visitors.

Much of the country's arrivals are coming from regional peers like Thailand- currently Laos' largest source market with 2.04 million Thai travellers taking holidays in Laos last year. Other key source markets for Laos include Vietnam and China - the market that saw the strongest year-on-year growth in 2014 with 422,440 Chinese nationals visiting Laos resulting in a 72 per cent increase.

These figures confirm the huge strides Laos has taken towards joining the ranks of preferred holiday destinations in Southeast Asia, however, attracting arrivals from Europe and the Americas continues to be a challenge.

Arrivals from Europe dropped 1.5 per cent with 209, 331 arrivals, while there was a modest growth recorded from the Americas with just 86,027 visitors representing a year-on-year increase of 0.2 per cent.

Another area that Laos hopes to improve on is the length of stay, which, in 2014 averaged at eight days. Officials have stated that they hope to boost the length of stay to 10 days by 2020- a year by which the country also hopes to be generating US$1 billion per annum from the tourism sector.

In an effort to build on its potential, the Lao Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism and the Chinese Deputy Minister of Tourism Wu Wenxeu recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of their respective countries.

As part of the MoU, China will share its expertise in the tourism sector in an effort to help Laos improve its infrastructure and services. Under the MoU China will, over the course of the next three years, conduct training sessions and field surveys on the development of quality standards for tourist attractions.

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