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Friday, February 8, 2008

Paklai readies for elephant festival

Xayaboury province is getting ready to welcome local and international tourists to the second Elephant Festival, which is scheduled to begin next week in Paklai district.
“I would like to take this opportunity to invite business people, traders, locals and international tourists to join us for the festival,” Governor Lien Thikeo said yesterday at a press conference held at the Lao National Tourism Administration in Vientiane .
“You will see exhibitions of local products and many activities involving elephants, which will not disappoint.”
The festival will take place from February 15 to 17, according to the official schedule from the Lao National Tourism Administration.
Dr Lien said the provincial authorities and the French-run ElefantAsia had been preparing the event for months, and confirmed the festival would be bigger than last year's, with more elephants and parades.
Competitions between people and elephants, an elephant beauty contest, boat racing and rocket firing would all be part of the festival, organised to create an atmosphere of fun, he added.
About 70 elephants and hundreds of artists and performers will take part in the festival, according to tourism officials.
The Director of the Xayaboury Tourism Administration, Mr Sangviane Sengkannaly, said that the administration had prepared a number of places for accommodation.
The district has 14 guesthouses that can sleep only 300 people so the authorities are arranging for local families to provide a home-stay service for visitors.
He said about 400 families in the town of Paklai had agreed to open their homes to visitors, providing sleeping arrangements for more than 3,000 people.
He expected that more people would offer their homes in the days to come.
Mr Sangviane said that the price of a room in a guesthouse would be from 50,000 to 100,000 kip per night and for a home-stay it would be 25,000 kip to 30,000 kip per person per night.
“We have agreed on a suitable price for accommodation and all householders have promised not to charge more tha n this sum,” he said.
He added that guesthouse owners, host families and service providers had been trained in the provision of good service to visitors, and believed they would be impressed with the local hospitality as the people of Paklai were traditionally kind and welcoming. He also stated that people would have enough to eat, because there were plenty of restaurants in the district.
Mr Sangviane estimated that at least 15,000 people would attend the festival, and the authorities had arranged extra accommodation, if needed, in the neighbouring districts of Kaenthao and Sanakham, about 70km from the festival venue, less than two hours' drive away.
The first elephant festival was held in Hongsa district, Xayaboury province by the provincial authorities and the French-run ElefantAsia. There were only 49 elephants joined in the event last year.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy (Latest Update February 07, 2008)

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