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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vat Phou marks 10th anniversary as World Heritage Site

(KPL) A rally to mark the 10th anniversary of Vat Phou's listing by UNESCO as a World Heritage site was officially held on 16 February in Champassak province. In the afternoon, crowds assembled to gaze in admiration at the colourful parades and took part in a religious ceremony. Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, Minister of Information and Culture Mounkeo Oraboun, Champassak province Governor Sonesay Siphandone, ministers and other high-ranking government officials were in attendance. Ambassadors and officials from the UNESCO office in Thailand and delegations from neighbouring countries also took part in the event to share Laos's pride of its second World Heritage site. Mr Sonesay said Vat Phou was an outstanding site and ideally located in a rural setting, flanked by ponds amid natural beauty, and linked by road to Cambodia.
'Vat Phou has long been recognised for the way it represents the long standing culture of an ancient people through its special architecture,' he said. Since Vat Phou, the Khmer-styled ruined stone houses, was given world heritage status by UNESCO in 2001, the province has become a popular tourist destination. It now draws some 400,000 visitors each year, who contribute to the local economic and tourism growth. Mr Somsavat said local people were delighted to have a world-renowned site on their doorstep and took great care to conserve the area and protect the ancient complex. 'More and more visitors are coming to the province to learn about the history of Laos, which helps create jobs for local people,'he said. Mr Somsavat urged villagers to band together to protect the site, and educate young people about its importance. He thanked foreign countries and organisations, including UNESCO, for providing funds and training officials to maintain the site. Vat Phou is located at the base of Phou Kao mountain, about 6km from the Mekong River. There was a temple on this site dating back as early as the 5th century.
Vat Phou has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a linga was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship, which has continued until today. The celebrations will run until February 18 and include a trade fair as well as cultural and religious ceremonies, with an alms giving rite scheduled on the morning of the last day.

Luang Prabang crowned World's Top City

(KPL) A representative of the Lao Embassy in France representing Luang Prabang province of Laos on Feb 3 received the Top City award at the World Travel Award ceremony held in London by the UK-based tourist magazine Wanderlust.

Wanderlust decided to award Top City title to Luang Prabang of Laos based on the votes by its readers.

The UK magazine ranked Hoi An in Vietnam the first runner-up and Tokyo of Japan the second runner-up of the Top City category.

Luang Prabang has won the award five times over the last five years. Its first winning was recorded in 2006, the second and third ones in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

In 2009, Luang Prabang was absent from the title and ranked seventh when Antigua in Guatemala grabbed the prize. The fourth time of winning the prize for the first UNESCO World Heritage of Laos was announced in May last year.

Situated in northern Laos, Luang Prabang is the former royal capital of the Kingdom of Lane Xang (one million elephants), blessed with traditional way of life, rich heritage of architecture and culture.

Nam Kad Waterfall to be developed as tourist attraction

(KPL) A private company Forest Area Conservation Ecological Tourism (FACET) has decided to develop the Nam Kad Waterfall in Say district, Oudomsay province, as a tourist complex after learning of its high natural potential for tourist development.

The investment in the tourism development project is estimated at USD 3.5 million.

The company signed a concession agreement on the tourism development project with the Planning and Investment Service of Oudomsay province on Jan 29.

The signatories to the document were Head of the Provincial Planning and Investment Service of Oudomsay, Mr. Houmpheng Southivong, and FACET President, Mr. Somphet Maopaseuth.

Oudomsay Vice-Governor Khampheng Chittavong and relevant officials of both sides witnessed the signing.

Under the 45-year concession, the company will develop and operate the Nam Kad Waterfall Tourist Complex, which covers an area of 6,115 ha.

The development is a direct investment by the company.

The complex is designed to have accommodations, resort, parking lots, restaurants, public facilities and ethnic villages to represent way of life of the local ethnic people.

Nang Aen Cave to be tourist complex

(KPL) The development of Nang Aen Cave as a main tourist destination for Thakhek district, Khammouane province, will be
completed in 2013, according to developer.

� Nang Aen Cave is 1,980 m long. It is 18 km from Thakhek heartland. The cave bears things worth learning. People from generation to generation have told a story about the cave. In the cave, there is a stone looking similar to a hermit,� said Director of the Nang Aen Cave Tourist Complex Development Enterprise, Mr. Khempheth Keophiachanh.

Last week, Provincial Administration Authorities of Nakhonephanom and Kalasin of Thailand donated three boats to the Tourist Business Association of Khammouane to be used in surveying tourist sites in the province.

The handover of the assistance was between Mr. Somsorb Nitipod, Head of the Provincial Administration Authority of Nakhonephanom and Mr Khempheth. The event was witnessed by Deputy Director of the Tourism Service of Khammouane province.

"This assistance is meaningful for the cooperation on tourism development between the governments and private sectors of Laos and Thailand, particularly between Khammouane province and its Thai counterparts Nakhonephanom and Kalasin," said Mr. Khamphet.

There are 146 tourist sites in Khammouane. These include 115 natural tourist sites, two historical tourist sites and 29 cultural tourist attractions.