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Laos launches pilot tourist digital platform

Digital transformation is not an option but is a must for the Lao tourism sector next year due to the expected surge in the number of tourists from China.
This was the main message of a meeting held in Vientiane on Wednesday to discuss a pilot tourist digital platform and training collaboration project between the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and the Lao Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Association (LAOSME).
It is envisaged that digitalisation will be implemented through the 8booking project, using platform.

Tourism-related officials on Wednesday meet to discuss the digitalisation of tourism operations.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the ministry’s Tourism Management Department, Vientiane Information, Culture and Tourism Department, LAOSME Association, Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association, Lao Tour Guide Association, Lao Tourist Business Association, and hotels, bars and restaurants in Vientiane.
President of the LAOSME Association, Mr Litthikay Phoummasak, said the main goal of the project was to initiate a sound ecosystem for the digital transformation of the tourism sector, which could be only achieved if all parties provide strong support.
The start of the 8booking project enabled only hotel and room booking and a 360 virtual tour and tourist call centre to support Lao MSMEs for a quick recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, hyperinflation this year has hammered the Lao economy and tourism is the only sector that has hinted at a sign of recovery, largely due to the Laos-China Railway, Mr Litthikay said.
The large influx of tourists from Thailand in July and August proved that the management of tourism in Laos was inadequate, he added. 
Numerous aspects of tourism need to be improved and prepared in the following years because of the expected global recession.
From 2023 onward, 8booking will support the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in the online registration of restaurants, bars, tourist sites, tourist activities, tour companies, tour guides, tourist vehicles and foreign tourists.
With 8booking’s support for data analysis, the ministry can develop better strategies, policies, planning, budget execution and monitoring in a more effective manner in readiness for working with key players towards the sustainable development of tourism.
Laos is the only country in the region that has a geopolitical advantage in its relationship with China and has a high-speed railway that can transport freight and tourists between China and Asean countries.
Without the digitalisation of tourism management, Laos cannot handle the surge in tourism and meet the need for data integration among tourist destinations within the country and overseas.  Laos can possibly miss a golden opportunity to promote its beauty and investment possibilities and therefore not fulfil the country’s potential.
It is crucial for the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to have a strong e-tourism strategy and take a lead in working with donor communities, businesses and other public agencies to gain their support, Mr Litthikay said.
The LAOSME Association in partnership with the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association, Lao Tour Guide Association, Vang Veng Hotel, Resource and Guesthouse Group, Muangfuang Rafted House Group and the Young Entrepreneur Association of Luang Prabang have already indicated their support for the ministry for the first e-tourism strategy preparation via the 8booking project.
They have asked for help from international development agencies, INGOs, foreign embassies and large corporates in Laos to share their expertise and funding support to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism through the 8booking project.


By Times Reporters
 (Latest Update October 14, 2022)


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