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French development agency grants 33b kip for cultural tourism

Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) on Monday provided a grant of more than 33 billion kip (EUR 3.4 million) for a heritage preservation and development project to be implemented in Champassak and Savannakhet provinces.
The AFD and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism designed a 6 million euro initiative called the Cultural Heritage Management, Preservation and Touristic Attractiveness (CHAMPA) project, which will be rolled out by Lao authorities and the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient (EFEO).

AFD on Monday granted EUR 3.4 million for the project with an agreement signed in Vientiane between the Director of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, Mr Christophe Marquet, and Country Director of Agence Francaise de Developpement to Laos, Mr Matthieu Bommier.
AFD will grant a further EUR 2.6 million for the project in the near future.
The project will run for five years and will begin after the agreement has been signed.
Mr Marquet said the EFEO’s involvement in Laos has a long history, from its pioneering work at the beginning of the 20th Century to its relocation in 1993. With this project, a new stage has been reached to train national specialists and to deepen and enrich the understanding of heritage.
Knowledge of this heritage and its enhancement must go hand in hand with balanced and sustainable development, he added.
The project aims to provide a better understanding of heritage, in particular through a LIDAR (light detection and ranging, airborne laser) survey, an innovative procedure already carried out by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient on the Angkor site in Cambodia.
This has made it possible to draw up a complete, high-resolution inventory of the cultural and natural landscape and potentially discover sites that are unknown today. Archaeological excavations will also be carried out.
Tourism development plans will be drawn up to create genuine tourist destinations that will encourage visitors to extend their stay and so create economic benefits for the local population, particularly through the creation of jobs.
Mr Bommier said that after 20 years of successful cooperation to preserve culture heritage in Luang Prabang province, the AFD is pleased to engage further in lesser known sites in Champassak and Savannakhet provinces.The treasures of Savannakhet province will be showcased in a renovated museum. The project will provide people with improved public spaces, and will support local territorial dynamics through a call for projects from associative and private actors.
“We believe that EFEO’s unique experience in Asia, and especially at Angkor Wat, will be very valuable to improve the knowledge and preservation of Champassak and Savannakhet provinces,” Mr Bommier said.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vat Phou Champassak in southern Laos is home to important heritage treasures - archaeological, architectural, intangible and natural - that are still unknown by visitors. Champassak district derives limited benefit from this cultural and natural capital, as the majority of visitors do not spend the night there.
Savannakhet province, the most populated in the country, is not today a tourist destination. However, it has untapped potential based on a wide variety of historical testimonies, according to a press release from Agence Francaise de Developpement to Laos.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 11, 2020)


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