Laos is planning to develop its tourism industry in a series of key areas, to capitalise on the expected rise in tourism in the ASEAN region.
At the recent Lanith Symposium in Vientiane, the country’s tourism leaders identified the need to focus on the development of human resources, tourism products and marketing and promotion, ahead of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Held recently at the Lao Airlines head office at Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport, the Lanith Symposium heard from Laos’ Vice Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism, Chaleune Warinthrasak.
“To compete in the AEC, we need to aim for quality tourists by increasing marketing and promotion and our efforts in human capital development. The government and private sector will also continue to engage in product development,” he told more than 70 delegates at the event.
ASEAN Secretariat representative, Eddy Kresmedi, agreed that Laos needs to engage the private sector to develop new tourism products, as well as in identifying new “three-country regional packages”.
Kresmedi admitted however, that the current need for multiple visas was hindering cross-border tourism in the region.
Areas Laos intends to focus on include natural, cultural and heritage tourism, as well as community-based initiatives and the river cruise sector.
Somxay Sipaseuth, Tourism Development Director at the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism, also added six new areas that Laos needs to focus on developing: homestays, clean tourist cities, green hotels, public toilets, community-based tourism, and spas.
He acknowledged however, that Laos currently lacks skilled labour and pledged to develop the country’s human resources.
“Natural tourism sites are Laos’ top priority, but we are also heavily focusing on cultural and heritage products led by three UNESCO World Heritage sites, CBT homestays and handicrafts, and river tours,” Sipaseuth said.