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What can be done to better promote tourism in Laos?

November 3, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

On the occasion of the launch of Visit Laos Year 2018, which took place on October 28, at the That Luang Grand Stupa Festival in Vientiane, the government invited foreign media representatives to cover the event. Vientiane Times asked for their recommendations on what could be done to better facilitate tourists and promote tourism in general and Visit Laos Year 2018 in particular, as well as the facilitation of foreign media coverage in Laos.

Times Reporters

Founder of Travelindex, one of the largest travel and tourism index and directories in the world that owns 71 websites including the Visit Laos website, Mr Bernard A. Metzger: What we need from you or the government here is content. There is never enough content there. I wish the brochures we saw last night [at the booths at the That Luang Grand Stupa Festival) we had that in electronic format. So many brochures, so much content but you cannot find it. Where is it? But I believe always it starts with information and data before you want to promote a  destination. YouTube is number one for travel videos. I wish we had all the brochures – it should make improvements to our Visit Laos website about Laos and having more content about Laos to tell the world about Laos. Most destinations, people don’t know about them. So first you give information data to inspire them to come to Laos. Last year, I went to Nam Kat Yorla Pa [a nature-based adventure tourism site] in Oudomxay province. It is beautiful, but who knows about it? People today look for experience of what can we do and what is unique? Last year, I went to Vat Phou Temple [a World Heritage Site in Champassak province]. It is beautiful. There may need some more improvements in access as to go up is quite risky. But people don’t know it is a sister city of Angkor Wat [in Cambodia] – how many people outside Laos know about this? The private sector has to be involved [in promoting tourism and operating tourism-related businesses]. You need public-private joint ventures. The government has to work with the private sector – you cannot do without [the private sector].

Founder and CEO of Destination and Lifestyle Media (Thailand) Co., Ltd., Mr Stephen Morton, who has visited Laos a few times: Disseminating information about Laos to the global media is important. The ministry [Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in Laos] can learn a lot from what other ministries around the world do to promote the country and what’s happening. Another thing is accessibility; the country has to be a lot more accessible from various spots. I was having breakfast this morning with one of my friends from the Cambodian ministry and there’s no direct flight between Phnom Penh and Vientiane so to get here you have to go through a third city.

The arrival experience at your international airport has to be facilitated in getting through the visa on arrival. Even if you have a letter from the ministry it can take an hour to get through. They’ve got two channels but only one channel [operating]. So they need to improve that. Additionally, for me connection facilitation is important. It is all about having accessibility to the outside world. When you are in the capital city or in Luang Prabang you have very good internet access but provincial towns have very limited internet accessibility and very limited 4G.

Correspondent from the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, NHK, Mr Kazuya Osakada, whose office is based in Bangkok: It is difficult for us to get a media visa. But this time we are very lucky and I am very happy to come here – very easy because the Lao government invited us and we got the visa within one day. This is very good for us as media. Actually Japanese people love tourism and I understand that the Lao government tries to attract many tourists. So we can show many kinds of information  what Laos is because there is limited information about Laos for Japanese. I am in charge of covering here in Laos. I am trying to cover any kind of news including tourism, culture and politics. We Japanese are very interested in the Laos-China railway connecting Kunming to Vientiane, which will later connect to Bangkok. This is good  news for Japanese too I think. That is a business chance that will come for Japanese too, so how to use this chance is important for Japanese. We don’t have any news source in Laos and we want to have cooperation with local media.

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