Champa Holiday Features Five Houaphanh Highlights:
Ecotourism Laos' regular column in Lao Airlines in-flight magazine, Champa Holiday, is spotlighting five of Houaphanh Province's top green attractions in its most recent July-August issue.
In "Five Highlights in Houaphanh Province", Vientiane-based writer Bernie Rosenbloom presents "Hidden City Audio Tour" (Viengxay Caves), "Mysterious Standing Stones" (Hintang Archaeological Park), "Nam Nern Night River Trip" (nighttime wildlife watching), "The Road to Vietnam" (attractions on the 80-km drive from Viengxay to the Vietnam border), and "Stroll around Xam Neua Town" (walking tour of the provincial capital).
Vientiane Kicks off Joint Tourist Information Service:
The Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA) is joining hands with privately owned hotels and travel agencies in Vientiane's tourism areas to provide free tourist information.
The JICA-supported service kicked off in July with 11 private sector enterprises jumping on board. Each participating business places a sign with an "i" signaling it is part of the free tourist information project.
The Responsible Tourism Event at this year's ITB Asia 2011 from 19-21 October at Suntec Singapore is seeking inspiring stories about "making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit."
Three selected stories will open the Responsible Tourism Event, which will go on to feature experts and practitioners in responsible tourism offering their insights into implementing sustainable best practices.
The selection of successful stories is based on the authenticity of the story, creative and innovative elements, and the power to inspire others toward, making responsible tourism a reality.
Ten entries will also be featured on Wild Asia's website as part of the "Rethink Travel" series, in which travelers explore destinations while uncovering how they provide a responsible travel experience.
Stories may be submitted in any of the following forms:
• In words: no more than 1,500 words
• Video: no more than five minutes
• Slideshow: no more than 20 slides
• Podcast; no more than five minutes
Entries must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 4 September 2011. Please title your email "RT Stories for RT Event at ITB Asia 2011" and include your name, email address, organization and destination. Successful applicants will be notified via email by 9 September 2011.
Organized by ITB Asia, Wild Asia, The Blue Yonder, and The Green Circuit, this annual Responsible Tourism Event hopes to bring together sustainable tourism practitioners to share, engage, learn and be inspired to make a difference.
The Mekong Tourism Coordination Office (MTCO) has announced the launch of the E-guide to Mekong Responsible Tourism at: www.mekongresponsibletourism.org with the aim of complementing existing travel guides to the Mekong Region, meeting the growing demand for responsible holidays, and fostering more responsible tourism practices with a focus on small and medium tourism enterprises.
Both independent travelers and tour operators can benefit from the information provided by the e-guide, according to MTCO.
Team Project Leader Christine Jacquemin said, "The E-guide to Mekong Responsible Tourism provides inspiring examples demonstrating that tourism can indeed drive positive change."
Each destination presents five main categories: "Country profile", "What to do", "Where to stay", "Where to shop", and "Where to eat". Other sections include an interactive Google map and "Responsible Tourism" that gives basic definitions of what responsible tourism is as well as cultural and environmental tips.
This E-guide to Mekong Responsible Tourism follows on the heels of the original "A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam", produced by the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Mekong Tourism Development Project. The new website was funded by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and a French version is being developed.
Laos' New Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Assumes Office:
Professor Dr Bosengkham Vongdara officially assumed the post of Laos' Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism on Tuesday, 12 July, replacing Mounkeo Oraboun, who has led the ministry since 2005 and plans to retire.
A ceremony to finalize the position change took place at the capital's National Culture Hall, and was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Asang Laoly, high-ranking Party officials, and officials from the information, culture and tourism sectors.
Mr Mounkeo's accomplishments include the creation of model cultural villages, promotion of Buddhism, the study of artifacts and their restoration, culture industry, and human resource development in the information and culture sector.
Laos and Vietnam agreed to additional cooperative efforts in culture and tourism during talks in Hanoi on 30 July between Laos' Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Bosengkham Vongdara and Vietnam's Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hoang Tuan Anh.
The discussions led to an agreement to organize a Vietnamese culture week in Laos from 31 August – 6 September, and cooperate in preparing for the Laos-Vietnam Friendship Year 2012.
The two nations also agreed to jointly carry out the upgrade of the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum and construction of the President Ho Chi Minh memorial site in Xiengvang Village, Khammouane Province.
They also agreed to facilitate travel through border gates and develop infrastructure for land routes connecting Vietnamese provinces lying along the East-West Corridor and between Champasak Province in Laos and Vietnam's Central Highlands.
The Vietnamese side said it was ready to help Laos in rating hotels as well as carry out the ADB-funded Sustainable Tourism Development Project (STDP).
In what he hailed as "the travel world's most vital event on the Greater Mekong Sub-region (that) delved into the undercurrents and the mainstream of an area surging in popularity," PATA Compass Editor Jim Algie takes a deep look into May's Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) held in Pakse, Laos in his "Special Report: River of Discovery" that appeared in the magazine's July-August issue.
Mr Algie takes the reader from Champasak Provincial Governor Sonexay Siphandone's opening remarks through a "solid roster of speakers and panelists" including PATA's Interim CEO Bill Calderwood, Horwath HTL Chairman Robert Hecker, ChildSafe International's Mark Turgeson, PATA's Strategic Intelligence Centre Director Kris Lim, Lao National Institute of Tourism Hospitality (LANITH) Chief Technical Advisor Peter Semone, and tourism TV Show Host Dale Lawrence.
He also presents the guest appearance by TV celebrity Chef Bobby Chinn, a mini-marathon
alongside the Mekong, a Lao Food Festival, and cultural pageantry
What happens when Chinese investors get a 99-year lease on land just across the Lao border in Luang Namtha Province's Boten Town? A "Bungle in the Jungle" is how Forbes Asia describes the results in its August issue.
In "Bungle in the Jungle", veteran Asian-based journalist Ron Gluckman investigates what led from a brochure promise of "Golden Boten City" with resorts, golf courses, and lakes, to a Chinese gambling center loaded with foreign prostitutes and shops selling pornography, and finally to a ghost town in a destination known around the world for green tourism.
Champasak Tourism Association (CTA) Chairman Somleth Phosalath said on 18 July that the tourism cooperation agreement signed in 2009 with the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association is showing positive results.
She said the number of Vietnamese visitors to Laos' Champasak Province in 2010 sharply increased over that of the previous year, and this trend should continue due in part to the resumption of Vientiane–Pakse–HCMC flights in January, 2011.
Package tours are also contributing to the rise in the number of visitors from HCMC to Pakse, home to Champasak's international airport.
Lao Airlines has resumed services from Luang Prabang to Xishuangbanna in China's Yunnan Province and plans to start a service from Vientiane to Singapore this November.
Lao Airlines now serves the Luang Prabang- Xishuangbanna route twice weekly, on Friday and Sunday, using an ATR72-500 aircraft, but the service will come under review on 31 December.
Flight QV818 departs Luang Prabang at 11.20 and arrives in Xishuangbanna at 12.20. The return flight departs at 13.00 and arrives in Luang Prabang at 14.00.
The airline served the Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Xishuangbanna route, 2003 to 2004, but suspended the service due to poor cabin factors.
Currently, Lao Airlines offers Vientiane-Kunming service, and plans to add Guangzhou using a leased jet aircraft, possibly next year.
The airline also confirmed it will use a leased Airbus A319 to launch its new Vientiane-Singapore service (QV535) on 1 November, and will offer three weekly flights on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
QV535 will depart Vientiane at 14.20 and arrive in Singapore at 18.20, and the return flight will depart Singapore at 19.30 and arrive in Vientiane at 21.30.
According to 2010 Lao National Tourism Administration statistics, 6,087 Singaporeans visited Laos, mainly connecting with either THAI or Lao Airlines out of Bangkok, while 161,854 Chinese visited the country by flying from Kunming to Vientiane.
The Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport and China CAMC Engineering Company have signed a USD 37.68 million agreement to upgrade Vientiane's Wattay International Airport.
"The government has invested through a soft loan offered by China to upgrade the airport and CAMC has been selected as the contractor," said Lao Civil Aviation Department Director-General Yakua Lopangkao at the signing ceremony, according to the Vientiane Times.
The project includes a runway renovation, apron expansions to accommodate 25 aircraft, a new approach lighting system, more car parking space, drainage system renovations, and entry road upgrades.
The report stated the Lao government decided to invest in the project to facilitate the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which will be hosted by Laos at the end of next year.
"One of the key factors to ensure the summit is successful is the readiness of Wattay, especially to deal with a large numbers of aircraft landing and requiring parking lots," Mr Yakua said.
Renowned tourism educator and recent recipient of the prestigious UNWTO Ulysses Prize Professor Kaye Chon will present the keynote address at the 4th Lanith Quarterly Symposium on Friday, 9 September 2011, from 08:30 to 11:30 at the National University of Lao (Dondok Campus).
Professor Kaye Chon will deliver a presentation, "Enhancing Competitiveness through Improved Service Quality", which is a critical success factor for Laos' tourism growth.
"We are seeking to attract 4 million arrivals and USD 1 billion in tourism revenues by 2020," explained Lao National Tourism Administration Official Veunxay Malavong. "The only way that we will achieve this bold target is by improving the quality of our tourism services."
Professor Chon serves as the Chair Professor of Hotel and Tourism and Director of School of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Poly U). Earning his PhD from Virginia Tech and MSc from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Professor Chon is a leading voice in hospitality and tourism education in the Asia Pacific region. He has led the PolyU hospitality and tourism program to its current international acclaim.
On Boun Khao Padap Din, held during the ninth full moon of the lunar calendar (29 August 2011), Lao people visit their local temples to present special offerings to their deceased ancestors and make merit.
In Luang Prabang, the ceremony is accompanied by boat racing on the Nam Khan River.