“It is a great honor for Laos to win the World’s Best Tourist Destination Award for 2013,” Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara said, stressing that this title needs to be protected in the years to come.

Prof. Dr Bosengkham spoke to local media in an official press conference held at the ministry yesterday. The conference was held after the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) delegation’s arrival in Vientiane on Monday to present Laos with the high-profile prize.

The ECTT conferred the honour upon Laos this year, with the award having been running since 2007, making this culturally and naturally rich country the fifth to be chosen in the award’s history and the second in Asia, after the Republic of Korea.

The presentation of the award will take place at an official ceremony in Vientiane tomorrow, which will be attended by various high-ranking government officials.

“It is a great honour for Laos, the Lao people and the tourism sector that the country has won this prize,” Prof. Dr Bosengkham told the people of Laos.

He added that the world class decoration was very meaningful and will add fuel to the country’s efforts to attract more tourist arrivals to explore the unique and diverse charms of Laos.

The World’s Best Tourist Destination is awarded to a country for its achievements in the tourism sector. It is conferred on countries that comply with the UN Tourism Division, UNESCO and the ECTT principles on fair and ethical tourism, safety standards and the preservation of historical, cultural and natural sites.

It recognised and confirmed the fact that the development of Laos’ tourism sector and its facilities has been meeting the standards set by the UN Tourism Division and the ECTT, Prof. Dr Bosengkham noted.

The minister said this has been made possible thanks to the appropriate policies of the Party and government in regards to the development of the tourism industry in Laos, adding that the government has designated the tourism sector as one of the priorities for socio-economic development.

He called for all relevant sectors to exert even greater effort to develop the Lao tourism industry based on sustainable principles and in line with internationally recognised standards, aiming to win the award again in the years to come.

Recently, Laos has become increasingly popular among foreign tourists and travellers. From 1990-2012, the country registered an annual growth of foreign tourist arrivals of about 20 percent.

In 1990, there were only 14,400 tourists visiting Laos, but these figures jumped to just over 737,000 in the year 2000 and further swelled to 3.3 million in 2012, generating revenue of more than US$500 million last year.

More importantly, the minister stated that tourism-related services generate income directly for local people unlike other economic sectors, which contributes significantly to alleviating poverty in local communities.

Laos offers tourists not only an outstanding historical and cultural experience but also the opportunity to explore wonderful charms and extraordinary landscapes, including the Nam Ngum reservoir, Bolaven Plateau, Four Thousand Islands, Khuang Xi waterfall and other beautiful attractions.

It is recognised that sustainable tourism can aid the preservation of outstanding historical and cultural areas such as Laos’ World Heritage Sites of Luang Prabang and Vat Phou Champassak, another heritage site dating from the 12th century.

The Plain of Jars is another historical attraction which offers insights into a Neolithic civilisation and a rare window from which to view centuries old tradition.

Source: Vientiane Times