Officials from information, culture and tourism sectors across the country met yesterday in Vientiane to assess last year’s accomplishments and outline plans for 2019.
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, said the meeting was different from those held in previous years because of a better review process and the extent of activities undertaken for Visit Laos Year 2018.
The meeting heard that the ministry has completed a draft review of the work carried out last year. It was noted that better use of the media and better quality printing materials had resulted in a stronger voice for the ministry, Party and government.
As part of the campaign, 429 communities were declared cultural villages and over 52,330 households were declared to be cultural families last year.
The meeting heard that the government developed infrastructure and facilities in the main tourist areas with a particular emphasis placed on road upgrades to improve access to visitor attractions. It was noted that tourism was promoted through the decision to give free entry visas to citizens of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden.
Raising the standard of tourist guides was also instrumental in the success of the campaign.
Authorities have identified aspects of tourism that need improvement. This includes updating the law on the management of sites of cultural and historical significance and informing the public of existing laws.
In addition, some tourist sites remain under-developed and many are accessible only in the dry season.
Reports have also been received that many visitors find the food in Laos expensive compared to neighbouring countries.
In making further progress, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism plans to improve the quality of detail in the information it distributes, continue to create villages of culture, and to follow through on the application for the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some 4.5 million visitors are expected to come to Laos during Visit Laos-China Year 2019, generating an estimated US$700 million.
During Visit Laos Year 2018, there were more than 4.1 million tourist arrivals – an 8.2 percent increase over 2017. The US$755 million tourists brought into the country last year was a 17 percent increase on the previous year, according to the ministry.