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Media urged to shift focus in tourism promotion

Media organisations in Laos and Vietnam have been urged to alter their tourism promotions by collaborating more closely and jointly encouraging audiences to visit both countries.
This strong suggestion was made at a forum taking place from May 21-24 in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.
The forum, called “The role of media in tourism development”, is being hosted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications with the aim of sharing information about the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Vietnam and Laos.

It is hoped that the forum will help facilitate better tourism campaigns that utilise the best images of the lands and people of Laos and Vietnam.  The close proximity and rich ties between the two nations mean they are often both visited by overseas visitors. As a holiday package, the two countries together offer more to visitors than they can individually. 
Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Savankhone Razmountry, led a Lao delegation to the conference.
In his address, Mr Savankhone praised the initiative behind the forum.  He said the four days of meetings will give media professionals from both countries the opportunity to share their views and experiences in promoting sustainable tourism.   Issues of history and identity will be explored along with comparisons and differentiation between the two nations’ natural and cultural heritages.  
Mr Savankhone pointed out the important role that mainstream media continues to play in keeping the public properly and accurately informed and countering the misinformation and fake news found elsewhere.  
“The media in our two countries are being called upon to share information and planning so that broader and faster tourism promotions are enabled,” Mr Savankhone said.
The deputy minister referred to the increasing number of tourists globally, noting that the number rose from one billion in 2012 to 1.4 billion in 2018.  The 2018 total was a 6 percent increase over the 2017 figure.
A similar increase has occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, where the number of tourists reached 343 million last year.
The number of Vietnamese people who visited Laos was 870,000, while some 100,000 Lao people visited Vietnam in 2018.
Aside from working more closely together, Mr Savankhone said the two countries’ media organisations should answer, explain, and respond to questions and queries that they receive directly from tourists. 
Media organisations must also be proactive in countering any misinformation put out that could spoil the reputations of the two countries. 
Also speaking at the forum, UNESCO Representative in Vietnam, Michael Croft, said the media should focus more on the meaning and relevance of cultural heritage.  He said more effort should be put into explaining why certain sites and activities are culturally important, rather than just focusing on events and activities in promotional material.
Mr Croft used Xuan singing in Vietnam as an example of the power of the media in protecting and promoting culture. Xuan singing was added to the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ list in 2007, Mr Croft said. “The media played a significant role in raising public awareness and revitalising the practice,” he added.
“What we would recommend as a good complement to this is a greater role for media in the effective management of tourism, especially mass tourism,” Mr Croft added. 
He said mass tourism poses a number of  challenges in terms of visitor behaviour. This behaviour can be hard to deal with at the site itself but preventative messaging beforehand can have a very positive effect.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 23, 2019)

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