The government of Laos is planning to expand its tourism industry by opening up new destinations and attractions to international travellers, the Vientiane Times reports.
Speaking to the newspaper this week, Phonemaly Inthaphom, deputy director-general of the country’s Tourism Development Department, which forms part of Laos’ Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism, said that the government has agreed a development plan with the country’s provincial authorities, designed to expand tourism site across the nation.
“Each province has been assigned to develop a total of 20 tourism sites… meanwhile the ministry itself has a total of 23 tourism sites,” Ms Phonemaly was quoted saying.
Currently, Laos has more than 1,900 tourism sites, covering natural, historical and cultural attractions. But Ms Phonemaly admitted that many of these are still undeveloped.
“Those undeveloped sites do not even have roads to access,” she said, adding that funding is still an issue.
But the government is now encouraging private sector investment to drive tourism development. This has already led to the creation of new visitor attractions including Phutawen Farm in Borikhamxay province and Pheuksa Garden in Vientiane.
Tourism is now one of the largest contributors to the Lao economy, after the energy and mining sectors. Last year, the country generated more than US$724 million in tourism revenues, although this did mark a slight decline compared to 2015.
Laos welcomed a total of 4.1 million international visitors in 2016.