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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Traveller numbers fall over New Year period

Transport operators will offer fewer services than usual over the New Year period due to a fall in demand as people choose to celebrate at home in the wake of the economic slowdown.

Public bus and airline operators announced yesterday they were experiencing a major drop in the number of travellers at this time year and would not operate extra buses and aircrafts as they have done in previous years.

Lao Airlines Marketing Manager, Mr Rada Sounthone, said additional flights to Luang Prabang province would not be offered this year, even though all flights were booked out.

“There are no more seats available for flights to Luang Prabang until January 2, however we will not offer more flights because there is not enough demand to justify them,” he told Vientiane Times.

He said the airline has been adversely affected by the global economic slowdown and recent political turmoil in Thailand .

The Vientiane Northern Bus Station will not offer more services to Luang Prabang as demand for the tickets as fallen by more than 30 percent compared to last year.

Vientiane Southern Bus Station Director, Ms Ladavan Sisouk, said more buses would only be put on standby if demand was high enough.

“If buses are overloaded, then we will call in more buses,” she said.

She said the bus station had been unusually quiet over the festive season this year.

“Last year, there were large crowds waiting for buses to travel home, however this year is not the same,” she said.

More than 50 buses depart from the station to the southern provinces of Laos every day. During the New Year period last year this was increased by more than 20 percent to cater for demand.

Ms Ladavan believes the current economic situation means people are opting to stay at home over the holiday period.

Another reason for falling bus passenger numbers is cheaper fuel prices.

“People who own cars will now decide to drive to holiday destinations because fuel prices have fallen,” she said.

Ms Ladavan said she would like authorities to promote domestic travel to boost the transport and tourism sectors.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update December 31, 2008)

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