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Monday, June 30, 2008

Luang Prabang world heritage certifies as smoke-free town

(KPL) The World Health Organisation (WHO) has handed over a prestigious award to
Luang Prabang world heritage town of UNESCO to certify Luang Prabang province succeeded in the implementation of non-smoking area.
Luang Prabang is the first world heritage town has been successful in establishment of non-smoking area and promulgated as smoke-free area which has been approved by Luang Prabang Administrative Board considering as national historical event.
The award was handed over by a country representative of WHO to Laos to Luang Prabang Deputy Governor Khampheng Saysompheng in presence of Deputy Minister of Public Health Bounkhuang Phitchit and other high-ranking official concerned, on 26 June, Luang Prabang province.
The main of objective is to build Luang Prabang heritage town as smoking-free town and reduce breathing smoking caused by other severe disease.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vat Phou to have new access road

Champassak province plans to build a road to improve access to Vat Phou and to link the neighbouring districts of Phonthong and Champassak.

The provincial Public Works and Transport Department has plans in place for the 25km road but is waiting for funding, department head Dr Khong Soukaloun said on Monday.

“We are waiting for a loan from the Bank of the Lao PDR before we can embark on the project,” he said.

He said once the road was built it would make it easier for motorists to get to Vat Phou Champassak, which is the country's second World Heritage Site.

The road will enable visitors to reach Vat Phou directly without having to take a ferry across the Mekong River . It will also facilitate the transport of goods to neighbouring districts.

By making it easier for local villagers to take their produce to markets, the government will come closer to achieving its goal to eradicate poverty nationwide by 2020, said Dr Khong.

The proposed road will cost more than 100 billion kip (about US$12 million), said project head Salongxay Douangboupha.

Mr Salongxay said he was confident the road would go ahead and sufficient funding would be obtained to allow it to open for public use by 2010.

The project is in line with the province's aim to provide more convenience in travel and goods transport and boost production.

(Latest Update June 25, 2008)

Donesao Island to magnetize over 120,000 tourists

(KPL) A well-known tourism site 'Donesao' island in Tonpheung district, Bokeo province is estimated to welcome more than 120,000 visitors, said an official.
Director General of Donsao Tourism Site, Mr Pan Thipphavanh, continued that the number of tourists is increasing constantly, especially Thai tourists representing almost 90 per cent of the total tourists.
The entrance fee is not expansive, just only 2,700 kip or 10 baht per person.
Donesao tourism site has opened since 1996 and attracted only 1,000 visitors, however in 2000 the number of visitors increased to 70,000 people.
Last year, Donsao tourism site has been able to attract over 110,000 arrivals, where 20 ferries and 60 speedboats are available to serve visitors, and generated considerably to the district with around 400 million kip.
In addition, Donsao also earns incomes from selling postcards and stamps calculated for 30 million kip annually.
Chief of Tonphueng district, Mr Chomsy Lattanapan said that over 60,000 arrivals have visited Tonphueng district during the festival of Doke Ngiew Ban held last February.
He continued that the district had 600 million kip income, of which 400 million kip was income from Donsao Island.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Visas available at Attapeu checkpoint

Visas are now available on arrival at the Phoukeua international border checkpoint, which is located in Attapeu province at the border of Laos and Vietnam.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Consulate Department technical official, Mr Daophet Chanthalasin, yesterday said promoting the tourism industry was one reason for the change.

He said many tourists visiting southern Vietnam wanted to visit Laos by entering the country at the Phoukeua checkpoint, but were turned away because they could not obtain visas there.

Phoukeua became an international border checkpoint in January this year and is located close to where Laos , Vietnam and Cambodia meet. Mr Daophet said the three countries were developing an economic triangle, and the visa changes could help promote trade cooperation.

Visas on arrival in Laos for the citizens of certain countries were first available in 1990 at Wattay International Airport and then in 1994 at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Vientiane and Nong Khai.

“Making visas available on arrival was initially aimed at facilitating visits of delegations between Laos and its neighbours, but now it also aims to boost tourism,” Mr Daophet said. There are now 19 international border checkpoints in Laos , but visas on arrival are only available at 16 of them, according to the Consulate Department. You can not obtain visas on arrival at checkpoints in Oudomxay, Saravan and Xekong provinces.

Oudomxay authorities have asked the government to allow visas on arrival in their province.

But Mr Daophet said facilities in that location were below required standards, because there was not a suitable supply of water or electricity, and there were no offices for officials.

“Before we arrange to provide visas on arrival, we have to ensure there is enough demand and there are between 100 and 200 people getting the visas each month,” he said.

“Otherwise, it will waste time and money.”

Mr Daophet said Saravan and Xekong provinces also wanted to offer visas on arrival, but they did not meet the required standards either.

More than 100,000 visas on arrival are issued to tourists in Laos every year.

The majority of these are issued at Wattay International Airport , the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Vientiane and Nong Khai, and the Vangtao border checkpoint, located in Champassak province on the border of Laos and Thailand .

The government recognises three types of border checkpoint in Laos .

An international checkpoint can be used by Lao citizens and citizens of all other countries.

A local checkpoint can be used only by the citizens of two neighbouring countries.

A customary checkpoint is used by people living in the neighbouring provinces of two countries.

Laos has more than 100 customary checkpoints. As more people start to use these checkpoints, they will be developed into local and then international checkpoints.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update June 11, 2008)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

At Phonsavanh's airport

I took holidays. I and my family wanted to fly to Xiengkhouang, North Estern part of Laos. I travelled further to Luang Prabang. I invite you to follow my trip about which I will post from now on.

It was on Sunday, even I tried to book air tickets but I could not do so. So we went straight to the Wattay airport with risk. Luckily there were places for us, 2 adult and 2 children.

We flew on MA60 of Lao Aviation to Phonsavanh's airport which is also called Thong Hai (plain of Jars) Airport. It is located next to the plain of Jars.

Phonsavanh is the capital town of Xiengkhouang Province. It is located among many hills that have no trees growing on them.