Laos asks for longer hours at checkpoints

Laos asks for longer hours at checkpoints

Call to promote cross-border travelling

Travel operators in Laos have urged the Thai government to extend the closing time at border checkpoints to promote tourism in both countries.

Kobkarn: Thai hotels wanted in Laos

They also asked Thai hotel businesses to invest in the landlocked country as there is high potential for tourism there, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

The minister had a meeting with tourism operators in Laos recently to discuss more tourism cooperation between the two countries.

She said Lao tourism operators want the Thai government to extend the closing time at border checkpoints in Nongkhai and other provinces linked with Laos to midnight from 10pm to facilitate cross-border travelling.

"Laos needs more processing time at checkpoints because transport over there is strictly controlled by speed limits," Ms Kobkarn said.

Many Vietnamese tourists travelling to Thailand through Laos would also able to spend more time in either country.

Thailand and Laos have been working on cross-border tourism for years, aiming to promote the "Two countries one destination" campaign to attract tourists from the other countries.

Ms Kobkarn said tourism operators in Laos also persuaded Thai investors in open hotels in their country.

"Laos wants to learn tourism skills from Thai operators. If more hotels are opened over there, the country will be able to accommodate more foreign tourists," she said.

Thailand and Laos have talked about opening more border checkpoints in Chiang Rai and Phayao in the North of Thailand.

Last year, 1.4 million Laotians travelled to Thailand, representing the fifth largest source of international arrivals. About 2 million of Thais visited Laos in 2016, representing half of the 4 million foreign visitors to the small country. Among Thai visitors, 1.4 million spend at least one night in Laos while 600,000 make day trips.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported Thailand welcomed 13.5 million international tourists during Jan 1-May 24, a 2.5% increase year-on-year. During the period, foreign tourists contributed 690 billion baht in revenue, up 4.2% year-on-year.

When asked about the impact of the bomb blasts in Thailand, Britain and the Philippines, the minister said there were no reports of room cancellations so far.

Hoteliers and travel companies told the ministry that they were not affected by the incidents.

"We remain firm on our tourism projection of 34 million international tourist arrivals this year," Ms Kobkarn said.

She added that China will remain the largest proportion of tourist arrivals despite the impact of zero-dollar tour crackdown.

The ministry and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) plan to discuss the zero-dollar tours at Thailand Travel Mart Plus in Chiang Mai next month.

The CNTA said it realised the cheap package tour problem was spreading to other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. The Chinese authorities are trying to come up with a lasting solution, it said.

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