The Nam Ngum reservoir in Vientiane province. -- Photo Khamphanh
The Nam Ngum reservoir in Vientiane province. — Photo Khamphanh
Authorities in Vientiane province plan to develop a site at the Nam Ngum reservoir as a tourist destination, with several domestic and foreign investors expressing interest in the project.

Provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department Deputy Director, Mr Bualy Milattanapheng, revealed the plan when talking with local media on Monday about the province’s tourism development strategy.

“We plan to develop a 10 hectare site upstream of the Nam Ngum 1 dam wall. We will build facilities such as three-star hotels, restaurants, and parking lots,” he said.

Around 30,000-35,000 people visit the reservoir each year, and about 6,000 people visited during the recent Lao New Year holiday, of which 10 percent were foreigners, he said.

Mr Bualy explained that the number of visitors to the reservoir has been increasing every year, but it suffers from a lack of modern and comfortable facilities, so the authorities want to improve the situation.

The scheme is in line with the province’s socio-economic development plan for 2011-2015 which states that upstream areas near the dam wall should be developed for tourism to create a link with Vangvieng district. Activities to be provided include boat trips to the islands, fishing, home-stays and trekking.

The facilities already in place include restaurants and guesthouses with a mix of passenger and tourist boats, but the local communities are unplanned and densely populated.

Mr Bualy said the community-based tourism project will not only create a sustainable way for people to make a living, but also address some environmental issues.

The project has been given the green light by the provincial Governor, but the authorities have to consider reducing land concession fees which they previously raised from US$1,000 to US$3,000 per hectare per year, depending on the type of land.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Somxay and Phoukhong
April 25, 2013