Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone has told the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to work with other ministries and sectors to address the issues hindering the development of the tourism industry.

He gave the advice yesterday when addressing the 2019 meeting of the information, culture and tourism sector held at the National Culture Hall.

The meeting reviewed the work undertaken by the sector in 2018 and discussed plans for 2019.
The government was pleased to bring issues that were beyond the capacity of the ministry to tackle for general discussion, Dr Sonexay said. He asked the ministry to compile a list of the challenges it faces for submission to the government.

The suggestion was made after reports emerged that a number of barriers were hampering development of the tourism industry.

These include the slow process on entry and exit at border crossings, the documents required to bring in tour groups, high prices, and inappropriate inspections and unwarranted charges applied to tour groups when travelling, for which receipts are not given.

Dr Sonexay said the government attaches great importance to the tourism industry and considers it to be ‘one of the core drivers of economic growth’.

For that reason, the government launched the Visit Laos Year 2018 tourism promotion which brought more than 4.1 million foreign visitors to Laos, an increase of 8.2 percent compared to 2017.

This year, the government in collaboration with the Chinese government has launched Visit Laos-China Year 2019, hoping to draw 4.5 million foreign tourists and generate revenue in excess of 6,001 billion kip (more than US$700 million).

Dr Sonexay asked the relevant authorities to work with neighbouring countries to initiate a single visa scheme in an attempt to attract more foreign visitors.
He praised the information, culture and tourism sector for achievements made in preserving and promoting the country’s culture, which has been a strong factor in attracting foreign visitors.

These included the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) last year officially recognised the khaen music of the Lao people as a form of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Officials in charge also finalised and submitted a proposal to UNESCO to consider listing the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province as a world heritage site.

Dr Sonexay called for the officials in charge to work with the relevant sectors to finalise and submit proposals to UNESCO to recognise Phou Hin Nam No (Karst Mountain) in Khammuan province as a world heritage site, as well as the traditional lamvong dance and the women’s sinh (skirt) naga pattern as forms of cultural heritage.

He also stressed the need for the media to improve the content of publications and broadcasts. “Avoid unnecessary protocol news,” he said.
He further advised the media to publish more news on development and productivity associated with local livelihoods, as well as analytical and critical news to expose misconduct.

He praised the media for doing a good job in disseminating the policies and guidelines of the state and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
Through their reports, the media have been able to counter and correct false reports made by hostile elements aiming to tarnish the image of the new regime.

“The media has been a sharpened tool of the state and Party,” Dr Sonexay told the meeting.

Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara and officials working in the sector from across the country attended the one-day meeting.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo

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