Laos eyes stronger regional partnerships in tourism


Laos is set to benefit from enhanced cooperation with Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar which aims to attract more tourists to the region and integrate the tourism industry.

Chaleune Warinthrasak, deputy information, culture and tourism minister, attended a regional tourism meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Wednesday to discuss cooperation and sign agreements.

The five nations that make up the Ayeyawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (AMECS) – a political, economic, and cultural bloc – agreed unanimously to continue tourism cooperation and work to attract tourists from within and outside the region, according to a Vietnam News report.

They agreed to coordinate to create trans-border tours and develop human resources, the latter in preparation for the Asean Mutual Recognition Agreements on the free flow of skilled labour.

The five countries have agreed to turn the region into an attractive destination for global vacationers under a campaign called “Five Countries, One Destination”.

Tourism officials suggested during the meeting that more policies be issued to allow tourists to travel between the five countries so that transnational tour packages can be offered.

Following the talks, Vietnam reached bilateral tourism cooperation agreements with Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, in which they agreed to continue to attract tourists to each other as well as visitors from other markets.

The agreements focus on tourism exchanges, facilitating transportation, regularly exchanging information about tourism policies and products, developing human resources in tourism, and establishing working groups to ensure the efficiency of joint promotional activities.

Last year, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam together received 19.6 million international visitors, an 11.4 per cent rise from 2013. Sixteen per cent of the visitors were from the AMECS countries.

Director General of the Tourism Development Department, Mr Soun Manivong, said Laos is located in the centre of the five countries and tourism cooperation will help to attract more tourists and generate income for people in deprived areas.

In August this year, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam agreed to jointly market themselves as “Five Countries, One Destination” in a move to bring more tourists to the region and integrate their tourism industries.

The move will help to reinforce tourism in Laos, allowing international tourists to know more about Laos and its tourist attractions through a united marketing campaign by member countries.

While Laos has much to interest visitors, there is not enough information about them in the public domain to woo tourists in large numbers.

Tourist arrivals in 2014 exceeded 4.15 million people, an increase of about 10 per cent compared to 2013. The largest increases were seen among visitors from China, the Republic of Korea and other Asean nations.

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