By: Siladda Souliyong, Vientiane Times, February 11, 2017
Tour operators have suggested activities and improvements to tourist sites ahead of 2018 Visit Laos Year which was recently announced by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara called on all tour companies to prepare activities for inclusion in the programme.
A member of the Lao Tourism Association, Mr. Inthy Deuansavanh, told Vientiane Times on Thursday, "The authorities should do more to promote 2018 Visit Laos Year such as supporting Lao festivals and holding more events."
"More public relations work is needed as many local people know about 2018 Visit Laos Year but this information should be circulated among foreigners," he added.
The 2018 Visit Laos Year initiative is part of the ministry's efforts to develop the sector while improving tourism services and infrastructure, and promoting a clean and natural image to visitors.
Other suggestions from tour operators included making festivals more interesting for visitors, offering more relaxing activities that appeal to foreigners, vendors selling more local food in each province to promote their identity, and authorities supporting more tourism industry events which allowed local travel companies to share knowledge with their foreign counterparts.
Operators also advised that souvenirs should identify with individual provinces, be value for money, easy to pack in luggage and must appeal to visitors' tastes.
Improvements to tourist sites were highlighted by Lao E Travel Co. Ltd. representative, Mr. Nakhonephet Somchan-mavong, who noted that many sites were run down.
"The government should clean up and improve existing tourist sites and develop new places of interest for visitors,'" he said.
"We should make use of our ancient villages in the provinces as most visitors are interested in the culture and traditions of Laos," Mr. Nakhonephet added.
Similarly, Mr. Sananikone Sitthiphanthong from Next Travel Company noted that "Local people should be taught about their history and culture; especially people living near tourist sites so they can answer visitors' queries."
The government has projected 5 million foreign visitors for 2017, 5.3 million in 2018, 5.7 million for 2019, around 6 million in 2020 and 8.1 million annually by 2025.