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Luang Prabang room prices double over the high season

photo: Hotel "La Résidence Phou Vao", Luang Prabang, Laos

Hotel and guesthouse proprietors in Luang Prabang province have more than doubled the prices charged for accommodation on their premises, due to increasing tourist numbers over the high season.

Provincial tourism officials confirm that prices are, however, still below the ceiling rate placed on prices by the provincial authorities, and that the increases in room rates have had no visible negative impact on the visiting tourists.

The president of the Luang Prabang Hotel and Guesthouse Association, Mr Khoun Chanthaboupha, said last week that accommodation providers in the world heritage town began to increase their service charges early this month. As tourist numbers dramatically increased, the number of available guesthouse and hotel rooms became insufficient to meet customer demands.

According to Mr Khoun, prices for a guesthouse room are currently ranging from 140,475 kip (US$15) to 936,500 kip (US$100) per night; a hotel room can fetch anywhere from 936,500 kip (US$100) to 4.6 million kip (US$500) per night.

The normal price for a guesthouse room ranges from 46,780 kip (US $5) to 467,800 kip (US $50), and a hotel room will not cost above 2.8 million kip (US $300).

Mr Khoun noted that the present prices found in the province are still under the ceiling rates established by the Provincial Tourism Administration. He said that the administration considered the increases in price reasonable, and as they were only seasonal, authorities did not wish to meddle with the business affairs of the sector.

He confirmed that the accommodation increases were not due to increases in the price of fuel and other goods on the market, but were rather a seasonal event, seen every year at this time as both domestic and foreign traveller numbers increase. He added that business people only have the chance to readily earn money du ring this time of the year.

“From early December to late January is the country's peak tourist season, and all accommodation providers seize the opportunity to increase the charges for their rooms,” he told Vientiane Times during a visit to Vientiane last week.

“During this time, guesthouse and hotels owners do not have to compete with each other to please customers and offer special prices to attract them to their establishments.”

Mr Khoun said that the only way to reduce the costs of accommodation at the more popular holiday destinations, and to make domestic travel to places like Luang Prabang during the season possible for all Lao nationals, was to encourage the private sector to build more guesthouses and hotels.

Luang Prabang currently has about 16,000 rooms available in guesthouses and hotels.

He said that Luang Prabang was experiencing difficulty in increasing the availability of room numbers, due to the enforcement of strict world heritage preservation rules, which limit the construction of high-rise buildings, and subsequently fuels the increases in land prices on which to build further guesthouses and hotels.

He said that many of the residents in the town have turned their houses into modest guesthouses. The rooms do not, however, always meet the demands of customers.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy


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