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Monday, December 7, 2009

SEA Games Muslim athletes and sports officials can pray in Vientiane Jamia Mosque

( KPL .16.11.09 )Vientiane Jamia Mosque welcomes SEA Games Muslim athletes, sports officials, supporters and tourists who would be here during the SEA Games period next month to do their Friday prayer and the five daily Muslim prayers (fazar, zohor, azan, magrib and isyak) in its premises.
This mosque is located in the tourist belt area and so it is right in the centre of this capital city. The newcomer Muslims could use the city's iconic "Namphu" (fountain) as a landmark, walk down Setthathirath Avenue for 40 metres until he reaches a directional sign, follow the arrow and he would come to the mosque, distinguished by its three spires.
Imam or religious teacher of this mosque is Maulana Nazimul Islam, who hailed from Assam province, India, and he leads the Friday prayer.
According to a committee member of the mosque. Mr Mohd Lokman bin Abdul Rahman, there are 900 to 1,000 Muslims in Vientiane. Quite a few of them originate from Pakistan and India. Another group are Lao Muslims and he said there are 200 of them. A small group are Muslims who are attached to the embassies here, such as Malaysia and Brunei.
He told KPL News on November 11 that he is happy to act as a guide to the Muslims who will be here in connection with the SEA Games and show them nice places in Vientiane. His contact number is: 020-5528-576.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Laos aims for quality tourism by 2020

The Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA) yesterday launched its national tourism Human Resource Development (HRD) strategy in a bid to strengthen the tourism industry in Laos .

The strategy, titled “Achieving Service Quality Through People”, was launched in Vientiane at an event attended by tourism officials and overseas guests involved in the project.

Minister and LNTA Chairman Somphong Mongkhonvilay said at the opening of the launch he was convinced that by strengthening institutional cooperative frameworks and the technical capacity of Lao people, service quality in the tourism industry could be improved.

“This will have the end result of expanding opportunities for employment and profit making in this dynamic sector and establishing mechanisms for sustaining our fragile ecosystems, heritage and culture,” he said.

Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Luxembourg to Laos , Mr Marc Franck, said the launch of the human resource development strategy was the culmination of a year of extensive work in research, analysis, stakeholder consultation and the crafting and design of an appropriate vision and strategic recommendations.

“Today marks not the end of a journey, but rather the beginning. Now more than ever before in Laos ' brief tourism history, it is essential that all sector stakeholders band together to achieve a common vision for the future,” Mr Franck said.

That vision will make Lao tourism internationally competitive through improved service quality, he added.

Recognising the importance of tourism as one of the country's major engines of economic growth and poverty alleviation, the government of the Grand D uchy of Luxembourg has committed itself to helping Laos strengthen human resources in the hospitality and tourism industry through the establishment of the Luxembourg Development project LAO/020.

In addition to commissioning the national HRD strategy, the project has recruited and mobilised 17 young teachers to Luxembourg and Singapore to undertake two years of professional studies in hospitality and tourism.

In 2010, the project will start construction of a National Tourism and Hospitality Training Centre as well as the development of national tourism related curricula and supporting teaching materials.

The two part publication detailing the strategy summarises the extensive fieldwork and research undertaken and sets out to map a vision for the hospitality and tourism industry during the period 2010 to 2020.

It is estimated that by 2020, Lao tourism will directly employ 40,000 people. This will require skills improvement of the existing 17,000 strong workforce and the development of another 23,000 new entrants into the tourism labour force.

Project LAO/020's Chief Technical Advisor, Mr Peter Semone, said “The story of successful tourism destinations and enterprises is one that is largely about people - how they are recruited, how they are managed, trained, educated, valued and rewarded, and how they are supported through a process of continuous learning and career development.”

In addition to the launch, a number of provincial events will be organised in the coming months to ensure broad dissemination of strategy both nationally and throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
November 3 , 2009)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Luang Prabang takes steps to attract more Chinese tourists

Luang Prabang province is seeking to streamline immigration procedures with Xieng Houng city in Yunnan province, China , to boost tourism between the two cities.

The Luang Prabang Provincial Tourism Department has submitted a proposal to the Lao National Tourism Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to consider the possibility of allowing all Chinese nationals travelling from Xieng Houng to Luang Prabang to pass through immigration checkpoints using only a border pass.

The move aims to simplify the current complicated visa procedure and bring more Chinese visitors to the province, according to the department's Director, Mr Khamphouy Phommavong.

“I believe if all Chinese tourists are allowed to enter our province using only a border pass, similar to Vientiane residents visiting Nong Khai and Udon Thani provinces in Thailand, it would significantly boost tourist arrivals from China,” Mr Khamphouy told Vientiane Times.

He said currently Chinese nationals wishing to travel from Xieng Houng to Luang Prabang are required to obtain a visa in Kunming , the capital of Yunnan province, which can take some time.

There is a system already in place to allow travellers from Xieng Houng to visit Luang Prabang using a special document instead of a visa, but the cost of obtaining the document is exorbitant and not an option for most people .

Mr Khamphouy said Chinese officials had proposed the scheme.

“We held talks with Xieng Houng tourism officials and they proposed that we introduce a policy of using only border passes instead of visas and passports,” Mr Khamphouy said.

Xieng Houng also shares borders with northern provinces of Thailand and a streamlined procedure allowing nationals of those nations to cross the border using only a pass book has already been introduced, he said.

“We have already sent an example of this kind of pass book to the Foreign Ministry and the Lao National Tourism Administration for consideration.”

Mr Khamphouy believes that the current complicated procedure means many Chinese tourists travel to other neighbouring countries instead of Luang Prabang and Laos .

Luang Prabang is a popular tourist destination with tourist arrivals continuing to swell despite the economic recession.

Tourist arrivals to the province increased from 344,029 visitors last fiscal year to 372,833 this fiscal year. Of that figure domestic visitors increased from 112,454 to 127,750, while foreign arrivals jumped from 231,575 to 245,083 people, according to figures collected by the department.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update September 30 , 2009)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Laos to build new Luang Prabang airport

(KPL) Laos will start construction of its new Luang Prabang airport next year and put it into operation in 2013, said Khampheng Saysompheng, Vice-Governor of Luang Prabang province.
The cost of building of the new airport is estimated at 86.4 million USD, provided by a special credit from the Chinese government under an agreement reached during a recent visit to China by Lao President Choummaly Sayasone.
The new airport will have a 3,000m of runway, parallel with the existing ones. It will be capable of accommodating large-sized aircraft like the Airbus 380. The new airport is expected to fuel tourism, the attraction of foreign investment, and socio-economic development in the province.
Thanks to direct flights to Luang Prabang from Hanoi, in Vietnam, Bangkok, Udon Thani, and Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Siem Reap in Cambodia, up to 70 percent of tourists fly to Luang Prabang, the jewel of tourism of Laos, which has been listed by the UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vangvieng aims to be most beautiful district in Laos

Vangvieng plans to become the most beautiful district in the country after receiving a grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) according to authorities.

The grant of US$1.4 million will be used mainly for a wastewater treatment system. This is an urgent need because the town has a large number of restaurants, guesthouses and hotels. Environmental issues, especially those associated with wastewater and garbage, are a high priority.

Vice district governor, Mr Phonekeo Khounphon said developing Vangvieng as a top tourist attraction is part of the government's 11-point plan, which aims to attract more visitors and create a sustainable environment in the district.

“We have already undertaken an environmental impact survey, particularly on the Xong River and we will start work this year. We expect it will take us five years to complete,” he said.

Mr Phonekeo said many developments in Vangvieng did not have access to a modern wastewater treatment system so they pumped their waste directly into the Xong River . This practice affects the quality of water and the ecology of the river in the long term.

“A proper wastewater treatment system is essential for the ecology of the river. While I believe that the river is still in good health we have to tackle the problem now before it deteriorates,” he said

Staff from the Department of Environment have worked hard to raise the awareness of people about the importance of a sustainable environment. He also urged people to work together to bring economic benefit to the community as well as the country.

Apart from the wastewater treatment system, the department is also facing the problem of solid waste that also ends up going into river. Mr Phonekeo said this garbage was not only unsightly but also had an impact on water quality. “We will actively encourage people to become involved in environmental protection,” he said.

Mr Phonekeo said development in the district should go together with conservation because the main attraction for visitors is the abundance of natural features and clean environment.

“For these reasons, we will plan and manage development carefully to avoid damaging the environment. To develop the district sustainably, we have to create appropriate regulations and rules to manage resources.”

Vangvieng is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Laos and tourism generates significant income for local people as well as the country. At the moment, the environment of the district is still considered good, if people are involved in developing and protecting the environment it will attract more visitors to the district, he said.

By Phonesavanh and Sysouphan
(Latest Update July 31, 2009)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tham Lom cave can become top tourist site of Vang Vieng

(KPL) Tham Lom cave, located along the Nam Song river, in Vang Vieng district, Vientiane province, is a popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists.
This is a well-known cave, mainly because of advertisements in the country and overseas.
Mr. Vansay Khamthip, owner of Tham Lom restaurant, said that this cave is a favourite site of many local and foreign tourists to Vang Vieng as they can go kayaking and tubing on the river and at the same time goes into the cave to explore on their own.
He also said that as he could see for himself an increase in the number of visitors to this cave, about 100 to 200 visitors per day, and this is giving him the incentive to further develop this site to make it more attractive for them.
Mr. Vansay had been mulling in his mind, he said the possibility of building a restaurant, huts and guesthouse for visitors
He is so upbeat on Tham Lom so that he said it is the beauty of nature of this site that really impress the visitor and he would come again giving this place a pool of repeat tourists

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Round the clock night bazaar

(KPL) The Hong Thong Development Project (or Night Bazaar)would be operational on a round the clock basis to serve the tourists, commencing from the later part of the year and the purpose of this kind of operational hours is to attract more tourists to Vientiane capital.
This project, presently under construction, is located in Chanthaboury district, in front of Lao National Stadium.
President of Hong Thong Development Project, Mr Khamphay Somsana said that when the project was first proposed it was meant to serve the tourists and to offer them round the clock service.
Construction started in May 2008 and now 30 per cent of the building had been completed., the president of the project said.
“The project is part of Vientiane’s plan to generate more income to the city, especially to the business operators,” he said.
He added that the project would be opened as early as the opening day of the 25th Sea Games.
Funding for this project was made by four local investors, whose combined total investment was 25 billion kip and the authorities granted them a lease of 40 years, Mr Khamphay commented.
“We decided to construct the Night Bazaar because we found that the majority of tourists who visited Vientiane would not spend much time in it and as a result some of the Lao money goes to foreign countries,” said the president of Hong Thong Development Project.
The Night Bazaar would have 10,700 square metres of land, seven two-storey buildings, one restaurant, a public park and parking lot area, he said.
The restaurant would offer a whole range of Lao food and the prices would be affordable, he added. .
The handicraft products, he said would be on sale in the Night Bazaar in order to introduce to the foreign tourists the traditional culture of Laos and the products can be gifts to them, he said.

Laos Airline to reduce price for domestic flight

KPL) The Lao Airline State Enterprise announced recently to reduce its air fee for domestic flight and reduce its flight to foreign countries after the number of passengers has been gradually decreased.
Mr. Lada Sounthone, Marketing Manager of the Lao Airline State Enterprise disclosed that his company has reduced its price about 25% for all domestic flights and reduced some of its flights for oversea routes from 24 March to September.
Mr. Lada expressed that the reduction of price for domestic flight was only for the passengers who bought double tickets (returned ticket ) and the company has also reduced its flight from 7 flights to 5 flights a week from Vientiane –Hanoi and from 7 fights to 5 flights a week from Vientiane – Siem Reap and from 7 flights to five flights a week from Vientiane- Kumming.
The flight from Vientiane – Xiengmai and Vientiane-Bangkok are opened as usual. According to Mr. Lada, the Lao Airline must reduce air price and its flight due to the global financial crisis.
In the past few months, a number of passengers of the Lao Airline has reduced about 20-30% compared to the same period of last year.
Mr. Lada added that the passengers of Lao Airline may increase again during October of this year due to the 25th SEA Games and the Lao Airline will also receive new aircraft ATR 72-500 at the end of 2009 for serving the public

Delays to modernization of Pakse International Airport

(KPL) Improvement work to Pakse International Airport in Champassak province has only been partially completed, although it is already passed the scheduled completion date.
Head of the improvement project for Pakse International Airport, Mr Anousak Kittilath said that even though construction work started in March 2008 but till the present its completion is computed at 42 per cent.He said that work could not go on seamlessly because of a series of delays, the delivery of raw materials, monetary compensation to villagers who were affected by this project and heavy rainfall for three months in 2008.
However, he gave the assurance that the improvement work would be completed by the end of November, 2009. When completed, the big and modern airplanes, Boeing 737 airplane and Airbus 320 would be able to land and take-off from the runway of this airport, added Mr Anousak.
Mr. Anoulack Khithilath, also said that according to the terms of the contract, signed with the Italian-Thai Construction Company, in March 2008, the runway would be lengthened to 2,400 metres from 1,650 metres, the width of 36 metres to be widened to 45 metres and the total construction cost was over 233 million baht.

Vientiane capital to host 900,000 tourists next year

(KPL) According to the planners who wrote the Vientiane socio-economic plan, 900,000 visitors would be visiting Vientiane capital in the next fiscal year, 2009-2010.
To cater to their basic needs, there are 169 guesthouses, 69 restaurants and 37 tourism sites in Vientiane capital.
It is said that these might not be enough to cater to such a big number of domestic and foreign tourists next year and Vientiane capital is planning to expand its accommodation and tourism facilities.
Its expansion plan is to have 100 hotels, 175 guesthouses, 76 restaurants, 39 tourism sites, four cruise sites and 80 tourism companies.
According to the figures on arrivals at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge and other local checkpoints, Vientiane capital welcomed more than 400,000 visitors during the first six months of 2008-2009 fiscal year and their total expenditure was US$40 million.
Based on the estimated figures, Vientiane capital is expected to generate US$88 million in income by the end of this year. For the next fiscal year, Vientiane capital is planning to increase investments in tourism infrastructure and to make them more attractive to foreigners.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Laos eases border travel to boost tourism industry

(KPL) Laos will allow tourists entering the country via a group package from a Lao tour company to travel around the country.
According to Lao Tourist Police Department Deputy Director Lieutenant Colonel Lathavy Sommixay, tour operators and the National Tourism Administration had requested that police ease travel for tourists, the Vientiane Times reported on Mar 4.
Lt. Col Lathavy said that it has been government policy for several years to allow Lao tour companies to take groups of tourists from neighbouring countries to several provinces on three-day border passes. “Tour companies must request permission from immigration police before taking tourists with border passes out of the area specified,” he was quoted as saying.
Lt. Col Lathavy said that individual tourists holding border passes would not be given permission by immigration police to travel to many provinces, and will be required to have a passport with a valid Lao visa to enter the country.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Luang Prabang prepares for Lao New Year

(KPL) Luang Prabang authorities have established 16 sub committees for organising the Lao New Year celebration for year 2552 (according to Lunar calendar) which is falling on 14-16 April 2009.
As the previous years the Luang Prabang authorities have decided to organise trade fair at That Luang Square on 10 April with traditional art performance and Miss Lao New Year contest and the perfume-watering of Pra Bang, the most respectful of Luang Prabang people, at Vat Mai Suvannaphumala.
To attract larger numbers of tourists the authorities of the province have been making efforts in expanding accommodations such as hotels, guesthouses and restaurants and classification of hotels to ensure their service to visitors.
As of 2007, Luang Prabang has 21 hotels, 203 guesthouses and resorts and 104 restaurants and seven entertainment places. These accommodations have 2,162 rooms and 3,439 beds in total.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tourist arrivals in Vangvieng is on a roll

(KPL) The global and Lao tourism industry is certain to be hard hit by the current global financial crisis but the slump in tourism in the world has not come Vangvieng.
The current number of tourist arrivals to Vangvieng district is drifting upwards, from 300 to 350 per day in 2008 to 400 daily in 2009, said District Chief of Vangvieng, Mr Kongsy Oudom.
“Last year, tourism for this district expanded at the rate of 10-15 per cent and for the whole year the total number of 127,750, on average of 300-350 people per day,” he continued.
What is important is to improve and expand the existing tourist sites of this district in order to provide quality support to the tourists, especially during the festive days, said Mr Komgsy.
“However, one should not forget that because of the ongoing global financial crisis, the tourists might fork out less money than usual and this can have an impact on the local people who depend on the tourist dollar for their livelihood,” stressed the district chief of Vangvieng.
Efforts had been made since 2000 to expand and improve the infrastructure and tourism sites of this district, so that at present it has 32 tourism sites and 72 hotels and resorts.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Khammouane to host eco-tourism festival in 2010

(KPL) Khammouane province will host an eco-tourism festival for five central provinces in 2010 and a similar festival was held in Vientiane province just a few days ago.
This decision was made when the 3rd tourism promotion meeting was held in Vientiane province on 31 January. Mr Thayaphone Singthong, Head of Tourism Division in Khammouane province said that to prepare for this event the province would be getting the cooperation of the National Tourism Administration and five central provinces of Vientiane, Borikhamsay, Savannakhet and Vientiane Capital. He said that in order to boost tourism there is a need to promote the culture and history of the five central provinces, particularly tourism resources in Khammouane province.
This province, he added has the Sikhottabong stupa, the Konglor caves that were used by the Lao leaders for national defense and liberation other scenic tourist sites.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Plain of Jars to attract more tourists to Xiengkhuang province

(KPL) The plain of jars is now the first tourist destination of Xiengkhuang province and it is expected to receive more than 20,000 foreign tourists in the year of 2009.
Mr. Khamphet Phommadouagkaison, Head of Tourism Department of Xiengkhuang said recently that his province has been working to improve many section of tourism, especially the infrastructure and accommodation to receive increased number of tourists. Today, the Xiengkhuang province has 93 surveyed tourism sites, 35 sites of which have already opened for service.
Mr. Khamphet added that the plain of jars which comprised with four main sites namely Plain of Jars, site 1 in Paek district, site 2-3 in Phaxay district and site 4 in Ban Phakeo, Paek district are the most attractive tourist sites in the province.
Besides the plain of Jars, the Xiengkhuang province has also a number of tourist sites to serve the local and foreign tourists. These included the hot spring in Khoun and Kham districts, eco-tourism site of Xang Cave, Kha, Peub and Lang waterfalls in Phaxay district

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Vangvieng prepares for tourism festival

Tourism officials are currently finalising accommodation options for the 10,000 people expected to visit an ecotourism festival in Vangvieng district of Vientiane province from January 26-February 1.

Vientiane Provincial Tourism Department Deputy Director, Mr Boualy Mylattana, said the department was training local people in eight urban villages of the district to manage accommodation in preparation for the event.

“Each urban village expects to accommodate 500 people. We currently have more than 4,600 rooms in our province, of which Vangvieng has 1,850 beds,” he said this week.

“We can also organise camping for 300 people in our town.”

Vangvieng is hosting the festival for five central provinces : Vientiane , Borikhamxay, Khammuan and Savannakhet and Vientiane .

The festival aims to showcase tourism products and foster ecotourism development throughout the provinces of Laos and with neighbouring countries.

Mr Boualy said his department was still collecting data on accommodation in outlying villages and neighbouring districts and expected it to be correlated by mid-January.

“Our accommodation will be sufficient for our guests and visitors - we have officially invited more than 500 domestic and international guests,” he said.

“We know that now our accommodation in the town of Vangvieng is almost full, but we will reserve rooms for our 500 official guests from January 29 to February 1.”

Festival highlights will include 300 exhibition booths displaying tourism products, handicrafts, agricultural produce and industrial products from Laos , Vietnam and Thailand .

There will also be cultural performances, a traditional sports competition and a Miss Sweet Orange Beauty Contest.

The official opening ceremony will occur on January 30 and include cultural processions and traditional dancing and music.

While in Vangvieng, people will also have the opportunity to see beautiful natural scenery, visit a sweet orange farm and organic farm and go tubing or kayaking along the Xong River .

Vangvieng district is 150km north of Vientiane on Road Number 13.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa
(Latest Update January 02, 2008)

Traveller numbers fall over New Year period

Transport operators will offer fewer services than usual over the New Year period due to a fall in demand as people choose to celebrate at home in the wake of the economic slowdown.

Public bus and airline operators announced yesterday they were experiencing a major drop in the number of travellers at this time year and would not operate extra buses and aircrafts as they have done in previous years.

Lao Airlines Marketing Manager, Mr Rada Sounthone, said additional flights to Luang Prabang province would not be offered this year, even though all flights were booked out.

“There are no more seats available for flights to Luang Prabang until January 2, however we will not offer more flights because there is not enough demand to justify them,” he told Vientiane Times.

He said the airline has been adversely affected by the global economic slowdown and recent political turmoil in Thailand .

The Vientiane Northern Bus Station will not offer more services to Luang Prabang as demand for the tickets as fallen by more than 30 percent compared to last year.

Vientiane Southern Bus Station Director, Ms Ladavan Sisouk, said more buses would only be put on standby if demand was high enough.

“If buses are overloaded, then we will call in more buses,” she said.

She said the bus station had been unusually quiet over the festive season this year.

“Last year, there were large crowds waiting for buses to travel home, however this year is not the same,” she said.

More than 50 buses depart from the station to the southern provinces of Laos every day. During the New Year period last year this was increased by more than 20 percent to cater for demand.

Ms Ladavan believes the current economic situation means people are opting to stay at home over the holiday period.

Another reason for falling bus passenger numbers is cheaper fuel prices.

“People who own cars will now decide to drive to holiday destinations because fuel prices have fallen,” she said.

Ms Ladavan said she would like authorities to promote domestic travel to boost the transport and tourism sectors.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update December 31, 2008)

Luang Prabang benefits from Thai turmoil

Luang Prabang's tourism industry has benefited from recent political turmoil in Thailand as increasing numbers of tourists choose to visit the province, according to a business representative.

Luang Prabang's Hotel, Guesthouse and Restaurant Association President, Mr Khoun Chanthaboupha, yesterday said political unrest in Thailand caused many tourists to reschedule or cancel their holidays to Bangkok and travel to the World Heritage listed city instead.

“We were unable to provide sufficient accommodation for visitors over the New Year period, with some tourists having to sleep at the bus station,” he said.

Mr Khoun said almost 3,000 beds in Luang Prabang town were currently fully booked and more than 50 percent of hotel and guesthouse rooms were booked between now and the end of the tourist season in July.

“We expect more tourists will visit the city over the peak tourist season,” he said.

He said the town was a popular tourist destination because it was beautiful, peaceful and safe, and its residents were kind and welcoming.

Mr Khoun said the increasing tourist numbers had eased fears the global economic slowdown and political situation in Thailand would hurt tourism in the city.

“We have felt no real impact from the global financial crisis so far,” he said.

About 60 percent of tourists were forced to cancel their trips to Luang Prabang during the recent week-long closure of Thailand 's main airport, which is a vital hub for regional transit, according to a report from the association.

Mr Khoun said Luang Prabang was still a very popular destination for international tourists, so there was no need for the association to reduce the price of hotel and guesthouse rooms to try and encourage domestic tourism.

According to a report from Thai media, hotels and guesthouses in Chiang Mai (northern Thailand ) have lowered their rates in an effort to boost domestic tourist numbers.

In Luang Prabang, the price of guesthouse rooms ranges from 50,000 kip to 500,000 kip per room per night, while hotel rooms cost between 50,000 kip and 5 million kip, Mr Khoun said.

Luang Prabang Tourism Department Deputy Director, Mr Khamtan Somphanvilay, said the city would remain popular due to its unique architecture and nearby natural attractions.

Mr Khamtan said a stable tourism sector would encourage investment in the industry in times of economic difficulty, with eight different businesses currently expressing an interest in investing in tourism facilities in the province.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update January 06, 2008)