Laos-China direct flight serves to promote cooperation
Beijing, China: The number of people travelling between Laos and China has increased, especially the number of Chinese visiting Laos from Hainan province, since a direct flight between Vientiane and Hainan came into service last year.
The new sector has proved popular and is leading to more people-to-people contacts in the areas of trade, investment and tourism cooperation, according to the Hainan provincial authority.
Deputy Director General of the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office in Hainan, Mr Chen Kangle, recently spoke to reporters from China, South Asia and Southeast Asia at the press centre in Hainan province.
Closer cooperation is encouraging more Lao people to visit Hainan and vice versa. Last year, not only Laos was operating a direct flight to the province, but also Cambodia.
“There is a good relationship between Hainan province and Laos. Last year a delegation of high ranking officials from Laos visited Hainan province after the new flight came into being,” Mr Chen said.
According to the Department of Civil Aviation in Laos, many countries are now operating direct flights to Laos, as well as some charter flights.
This includes more flights from China. Previously, only China Eastern Airlines operated flights to Laos but they have been joined by Sichuan Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
Many Chinese are flying to se veral destinations in Laos, while tourist attractions in China are also proving popular with scores of Lao people. Direct flights from Laos to China consist of the following sectors: Vientiane-Kunming, Vientiane-Guangzhou, Vientiane-Nanning, Vientiane-Hainan, Luang Prabang-Jinghong, Luang Prabang-Cheng du and Vientiane-Changzhou.
Laos has an “open skies” policy with many countries in the region. Direct flights are operated by domestic and foreign carriers comprising Lao Airlines, AirAsia, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Ji n Air and Silk Air.
Chinese were among the top 10 foreign nationalities visiting Laos in 2016 with more than 545,943 people, according to the Department of Tourism Development under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
According to investment statistics, China is the top investor in Laos with its companies investing in more than 765 projects at a cost of more than US$7 billion in areas such as mineral products, agriculture, electricity, artefacts, and tourism.
Of these projects, 552 were funded by Chinese companies, while Laos and China jointly invested in 212 projects. China is Laos' top source of foreign investment.
The total value of imports and exports from Laos to China exceeded US$1.5 billion over the last nine months of 2015-16. Of this figure, the export value totalled US$950 million, while imports were valued at US$570 million.
Mr Chen said that last year over 6 million foreign visitors came to Hainan.
According to the Sanya Resident and Visitor Information Centre, the city of Sanya is a popular tourist destination in Hainan province and has an attractive coastline, fine beaches, and mountains in the interior.
In the past, residents complained that many of the best beaches in Sanya had been fenced off by a number of seaside hotels, and they were not allowed to enter.
In March 2016, the government ordered the removal of these fences and opened the beaches to the public.
Up until September 2016 about 40 million yuan had been invested in coastal recovery and building seaside trails on the se beaches.
The city also ordered the closure of more than 200 aquaculture farms along the rivers, as fisheries are some of the most destructive contributers of pollution in the area's waterways.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update April 4, 2017)