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Attapeu tourism development requires more all-season roads

Attapeu province in southern Laos has huge untapped tourism potential but still lacks the funding to develop these tourism sites and roads access, officials have confirmed.
Without roads access, it would make it difficult for authorities to attract the business sector to develop those attractions and provide more facilities for international visitors.  

Director of the Provincial Department of Planning and Investment Mr Soulichan Phonekeo told Vientiane Times yesterday that the province received a budget of 29 billion kip from the government, less than 2016 (36 billion kip).
Of the total, 30 percent is being disbursed for infrastructure development including roads to tourism sites.
“Our province has recognised the significance of infrastructure development, particularly road access to tourism sites to attract more tourists to the province, but we lack funding to carry out these projects,” Mr Soulichan said.
“We need huge amounts of funding to develop roads and other facilities if we want to attract tourists to stay longer in our province. We believe that tourism can bring direct income to poorer people as well as bringing positive changes to the province.”  
Infrastructure and tourism development serve as the foundations for developing the main draw-cards in Attapeu if authorities want to attract more tourists to spend time and money in the province.
Director of the provincial Department of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ms Bounnan Bounnaseng, said recently “We have a lot of exciting historical, cultural and natural tourist attractions, but people are reluctant to visit them due to a lack of road access.”
Among these rarely visited attractions are the Chao Xaysettha stupa, the Ho Chi Minh trail, Nong Fa (Sky Lake), and dozens of waterfalls. 
“We face a lot of challenges in attracting companies to develop tourist attractions. Some developers say they are interested but in fact they just want to hang on to them so they can sell the project to another business,” Ms Bounnan said.
Nong Fa is about 170 kilometres from the provincial capital, but one section of road about 70km long is difficult to negotiate in the wet season because it is unpaved. Attapeu provincial authorities have been urged to learn from Champassak and Luang Prabang provinces on how best to develop their tourism industry.
Every day, dozens of flights from foreign countries arrive in Luang Prabang, Laos’ first World Heritage Site, and in Champassak province home to Wat Phou, its second, drawn by their special charms.  
Meanwhile, in Attapeu province an international airport has been built without first trying to strengthen tourism industry via increased road connectivity within the province and to already-popular sites in neighbouring Champassak. As yet Attapeu remains a relatively poor area located in the far south of Laos. Only about 100,000 tourists visit the province annually despite the fact that it has several places of interest to explore.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update June 13, 2017)

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