Officials in Laos have given the green light for the development of a new trade and tourism zone in the southern province of Champassak.
The Vientiane Times reports that the Vangtao-Phonthong special economic zone will be created on 253 hectares of land close to the border with Thailand.
Costing approximately US$250 million to develop, it will include duty-free shops, a border market trade centre, a hotel and other tourist infrastructure.
The announcement of the new zone was made during a ceremony to open a new road from the Thai-Lao border. The 42km-long highway has been expanded from two to four lanes and now includes four more bridges.
It is expected to boost trade and tourism links in southern Laos, especially between Champassak and its largest city Pakse, and the eastern Thai province of Ubon Ratchathani.