Govt urges public to ensure Laos keeps top tourism ranking

Published on May 13, 2013

A senior tourism official has urged all Lao people to preserve their culture and natural resources and maintain national pride after Laos was named the World’s Best Tourist Destination for 2013 this week.

The award was presented by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) in Vientiane on Thursday.

Almsgiving is among the highlights of a visit to the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang.

Almsgiving is among the highlights
of a visit to the World Heritage Site
of Luang Prabang.

Talking to the Vientiane Times yesterday, Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Chaleune Warinthrasak, said it would be a challenge for Laos to maintain the top ranking at a time of global change.

“I think Lao people of all ethnicities throughout the country need to work harder to protect our culture and natural resources as well as maintain the hospitality for which we are renowned,” he said.

Mr Chaleune gave a few examples that could have a negative impact on Laos maintaining the top ranking, which included businesspeople cheating tourists. The role of the tourism police is not only to arrest felons but also to help tourists in time of need, he said.

Development projects must take into account the need to preserve the natural environment. If tourists fall in love with the beautiful green forests of Laos and decide to return only to find rubber plantations in their place, this will destroy the country’s image as an untouched paradise.

Mr Chaleune said the preservation of traditional culture was among the main reasons that Laos won the award, citing the fact that Lao women always wear a traditional skirt in their place of work and at temples.

“We have also protected and restored temples that were first built centuries ago. This is intended to preserve them for future generations to enjoy,” he said, adding that the multi-ethnic Lao people have strong traditions and many colourful customs. They also celebrate their traditional festivals throughout the year.

During the award ceremony on Thursday, ECTT Chairman Professor Dr Anton Caragea warned that as Laos becomes more popular with tourists, people will expect more in terms of services and natural and cultural preservation.

However, he praised the Lao people for building a perfect civilisation over the centuries, with hundreds of monuments of historical and cultural relevance, saying that we are a people that have offered countless riches to humanity, from religious temples and scriptures to literary texts and historical writings.

He also touched upon the significance of the tourism sector to the human experience the world over, saying that tourism in the 21st century is not only a way to enjoy life and discover new places and cultures but is also a mass phenomenon that combines sightseeing, recreation and healthcare.

Meanwhile, tourism is becoming an important factor in development through the building of roads for example, and offers Lao people a source of income and employment as well as being a general source of prosperity.

Another challenge for Laos is to develop its human resources to provide quality services to meet the needs of tourists. The relevant sectors should work together to ensure that Laos can win this award in the future, he added.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Somsack Pongkhao
May 11, 2013