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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)

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