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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)