Xieng Khuang hoteliers bear the brunt of games’ postponement

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Business operators in Xieng Khuang province are feeling the impact of the postponement of the National Games which had been scheduled for March 22 to April 1.

With Laos lacking widespread health infrastructure and medical supplies, authorities decided to postpone the games to reduce the risk of an outbreak of Covid-19.

An official celebration of the Plain of Jars’ inscription on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) list of World Heritage Sites, scheduled to coincide with the opening ceremony of the games, has also been postponed.

Head of the Guesthouse, Hotel and Restaurant Association in Xieng Khuang province, Mr Siphay Noylabounsy, told Vientiane Times that members of the association would lose a lot of business due to the postponement of these two events.

Many had also spent a lot of money in anticipation of an influx of visitors.

“Members of our association are feeling the impact of the postponement of the National Games because they had made a lot of preparations to receive visitors. They had spent money to improve their operations.  A lot of people had made improvements to their hotels and guesthouses while restaurant managers had made arrangements to get more food.”

“Hotel and guesthouse owners said many people had booked rooms. Some are waiting to hear if the games will be rescheduled while others have cancelled their reservations. Travel agents were also preparing to provide services to visitors but their plans are now also on hold.”

“We haven’t had any actual reports from our members because they are still waiting to hear if there will be an announcement about new dates for the games and the Plain of Jars celebration, so we haven’t made a report on the issue to higher authorities,” Mr Siphay said.

Xieng Khuang has more than 100 guesthouses and hotels which can accommodate 3,000 people a night. There are also at least 100 restaurants.

Manager of the Phouchan Resort in Paek district, Ms Phan Somboutdy, said “Like other places of accommodation, we were expecting visitors during the National Games and have spent quite a lot of money to improve our facilities and services.”

“We made special preparations as we were expecting to receive a large amount of visitors but unfortunately this isn’t going to happen for a while and we don’t know how long we will have to wait.”

“Before the games were postponed, some people called to ask about booking a room but in the end they didn’t when they heard the games wouldn’t take place as planned.”

“I’m quite sure we would have had a sizeable number of guests if the games hadn’t been postponed,” Ms Phan said.