Khammouane Eyes Tourism Boom as Mekong Bridge Opens:

Khammouane provincial authorities expect tourist numbers to increase threefold following the official opening of the third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River on 11 November, according to Lao Voices.

Speaking to the Vientiane Times, the provincial Deputy Governor Somchay Phetsinuan said that around 300,000 tourists visit Khammouane each year but a huge increase is expected next year.

The bridge stretches from the Meuang District of Thailand's Nakhon Phanom Province to Laos' Veun Tai Village, 13 km south of Thakaek.

The bridge is expected to lead to the development of Khammouane's rural areas, with facilities to accommodate trade, investment, and tourism activities.

Funded by the Thai government at a cost of more than THB 1.7 billion, the bridge spans 780 meters across the Mekong River. The whole structure is 5.2-km long, including exit and entrance ramps.

Work on the bridge began in May 2009 with the aim of linking Thailand's roads through Laos to Vietnam and southern China.

Khammouane provincial authorities now plan to build a new road and upgrade Road 12 to improve land links with Vietnam.

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