Laos, a little-known MICE destination with great potential

In Southeast Asia, business tourism known by the acronym MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events) is enjoying a remarkable boom. While destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket already enjoy a solid reputation among industry professionals, Laos, a neighboring country to Vietnam and Cambodia, is emerging as an unsuspected MICE destination with many assets to exploit. Little-known until now, this country holds great potential for the development of this type of business and event tourism.

Mekong river in Laos - Photo : Mr Linh's adventures


Nestled in Southeast Asia, Laos stands out for its serenely beautiful landscapes, centuries-old Buddhist temples and rich, authentic culture. However, beyond its growing tourist appeal, this country bordering China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar is emerging as a promising, if little-known, destination for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Events) tourism.

Historical overview of MICE tourism in Laos

Although Laos has seen a meteoric rise in tourism in recent years, the MICE sector is still relatively new.
Long politically and economically isolated, which hampered its development as a tourist destination, the country only began to open up to the outside world in the 1990s, allowing tourism to gradually take off.
Until the early 2000s, Laos was one of the world's poorest nations, cruelly lacking in infrastructure. It wasn't until 2003, when Vientiane hosted the Asia-Europe Summit, that the country really opened up to international events. Since then, despite slow but steady development, marked by the construction of a number of convention centers and top-of-the-range hotels in the capital, MICE tourism has grown steadily. The Laotian government has taken steps to promote it, notably by creating a dedicated national office and investing in appropriate infrastructure.
Following steady growth, Laos welcomed over one million MICE tourists in 2019, up 15% on the previous year.

Luang Prabang - Photo : Mr Linh's adventures

MICE tourism in Laos

With its rich cultural and historical heritage punctuated by Buddhist temples and historic and cultural sites - such as the preserved city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site - Laos has undeniable assets for MICE tourism. Its breathtaking natural landscapes, with mountains, rivers and tropical forests, also offer an exceptional setting for organizing events. A safe and stable country with affordable costs, Laos has seen its tourism infrastructure expand in recent years with the emergence of hotels and convention centers. Its people, renowned for their hospitality and kindness, guarantee a warm welcome to participants.
At present, business tourism is mainly concentrated in Vientiane, home to modern convention centers such as the 1,200-seat National Convention Centre, as well as more intimate venues such as the 450-seat Don Chan Palace. A number of high-end hotels such as the Settha Palace and the Lao Plaza complete the range of event venues.
Nevertheless, Laos faces a number of challenges, such as a lack of qualified personnel in the MICE sector, a developing transport infrastructure, limited international air links and a still underdeveloped ecosystem of event service providers (caterers, logistics, technical). Not to mention the fact that outside Vientiane, Internet coverage and speed may be insufficient to meet the connectivity needs of a MICE event.

Promising future prospects

Despite these challenges, the future of business tourism in Laos looks bright. The Laotian government is determined to promote this sector, and is stepping up measures to improve infrastructure and training. What's more, Laos is ideally positioned to benefit from the boom in business tourism in Southeast Asia, a region experiencing rapid economic growth and where companies are looking for new destinations for their events.
The country's unique culture, its well-preserved natural heritage with two UNESCO sites and, above all, its very affordable prices, are a real competitive advantage. In fact, according to the UNWTO, the government plans to invest $519 million between now and 2025 to strengthen infrastructure and training in the tourism sector. The next step will be the construction of a 10,000-seat convention center in Vientiane by 2025, enabling Laos to host major regional events and position itself as an emerging MICE destination in Southeast Asia, after countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

Vientiane, capital of Laos - Photo : Mr Linh's adventures

Finally, a few statistics

  • •  More than 1 million MICE tourists visited Laos in 2019 (source: Laos Ministry of Tourism).
  • •  There was a 15% increase in MICE tourism compared to 2018 (source: Laos Ministry of Tourism).
  • •  Laos was visited by around 100,000 MICE event participants in 2019.
  • •  By 2025, the government of Laos aims to attract 1 million participants to MICE events.
  • •  Laos ranks 84th out of 195 countries for ease of doing business (source: World Bank).
  • •  The cost of living in Laos is around 50% lower than in France (source: Numbeo).
  • •  The aim is for the MICE tourism market in Southeast Asia to reach 32 billion USD by 2025.


Vang Vieng - Photo : Mr Linh's adventures



Laos, a little-known MICE destination, has a lot to offer. Combining cultural discovery with moments of relaxation, this country offers an ideal setting for organizing unique business events. Its natural and cultural assets make it a privileged destination for companies in search of authentic, immersive experiences.
As an emerging land in the MICE segment, Laos benefits from an appealing novelty effect for organizers looking for original destinations. Being a forerunner in this Asian region can therefore confer a significant marketing advantage.
However, to guarantee the success of their MICE event in Laos, organizers need to anticipate the logistical and operational challenges they will face. Local support will be essential. But for those ready to take up the challenge, Laos promises an original and affordable experience.


UN Tourism
Tourism Lao
World Bank

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