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Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Massive difference in Mekong tourism take

Cambodia gets $664 per tourist compared to $149 for Laos

Laos' Vice Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Chaleun Warinthrasak stressed the development and marketing of quality products, services, and better educating the work force would get bigger benefits. "We are committed to working together with all stakeholders to achieve these goals." He said at the recent Lanith Symposium.

The Vice Minister stated Laos needed to generate more revenue per visitor, as the nation currently ranks last of the Mekong Region countries, and has a reputation as an expensive destination.

German Ambassador to Laos Robert von Rimscha contrasted Cambodia's revenue per arrival, which towers over Laos. Though both welcomed close to 3 million visitors last year, Cambodia hauled in US$664 per visitor, the third highest in the region, compared to US$149 for Laos, the Mekong's lowest.

The reason, according to the ambassador, is, "because Cambodia appeals to upscale markets and is accessible."

Lao Tourism Marketing Board Senior Marketing Adviser Kirsten Focken pointed out that Asean markets account for some 80% of Lao arrivals, more than twice the percentage of other Mekong Region destinations. Conversely, other Asia Pacific visitors only provide 10% of Laos' arrivals, compared to 30-60% for other regional countries.

Ms Focken said Laos is losing market share in the region, particularly with international tourists. Further, accommodation establishments and tour operators are suffering.

The reasons for this, she stated, are weak promotion and lack of new products and ideas. "We must do better; we need new products that can be successful."

She said Laos needs marketing efforts that encompass web and digital promotion, a focus on themes and niches, and responsible and creative tourism.           

Myanmar Tourism Federation Senior Tourism Advisor Daw Kyi Kyi Aye remarked that in Myanmar, the marketing budget is shared, especially for major trade shows. "We hold fund raising events like golf tournaments and gala dinners, and then the public and private sectors pick up the rest."

She concluded, "The public and private sectors need to meet more often like at these Lanith symposia to share experiences, and establish more associations. This works well in Myanmar."

Valere Tjolle
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