Deputy minister highlights Laos’ tourism growth, global cooperation on international stage

Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Lao PDR, Mr Savankhone Razmountry, was invited to attend the Asean Chambers of Commerce and Industry Business Meet-2019 organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) on February 25-27 at The Lalit Ashok in Bengaluru, India.
The international business meet brought together Chambers of Commerce, exporters and importers from Asean and the Asean Plus countries along with some special invitee countries, high-profile conference delegates from India and overseas, top management of leading corporates and industry, bureaucrats, policy makers and heads of public sector undertakings, and members of national and state industry associations on a single platform.
Their goal was to promote trade, business and investment for the mutual benefit of the host country and the participating countries.
The event aimed to create a high level networking ground for people to explore new collaborations and showcase new products to stakeholders.
Mr Savankhone was among a number of ministers, ambassadors, officials, professionals and VIP guests from Asean and other regions participating in the event.

Mr Savankhone Razmountry delivers a speech at the Asean Chambers of Commerce and Industry Business Meet-2019, in Bangaluru, India.

He delivered a speech in which he highlighted the growth of the tourism industry in Laos and global cooperation in tourism.
The government of the Lao PDR has strongly supported India’s initiative, namely the “Act East Policy” and “Make in India”, to complement Asean’s community building efforts and further enhance tourism collaboration between Asean and India through concrete activities, he said.
Tourism has experienced continual growth and diversification to become one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. Tourism plays a significant role in the process of national economic development. What makes tourism a priority development sector in many countries is that its benefits are manifold, namely: economically through the generation of foreign receipts, financial returns on investment, taxation on tourists and tourist products, and other local industries such as agriculture; socially, through the creation of employment, both skilled and unskilled, especially for women, youth and ethnic groups; and culturally through tourism.
“I highly value the cooperation framework of the UN World Tourism Organisation, which will provide guidance and policies on sustainable tourism development as well as the most viable and sustainable economic development options, with positive impacts on reducing poverty levels,” Mr Savankhone said.
The Lao PDR has enjoyed increasing development with an economic growth rate of about 7 percent annually over recent years. Tourism has contributed significantly to economic growth and is a mainstay for the sustainable development of the country.
In 2018, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at about 6.5 percent, with per capita GDP reaching US$2,599 and per capita Gross National Income reaching US$2,209. Strong economic growth was significantly boosted by the rollout of the Visit Laos Year 2018 programme.
The Lao PDR possesses a wealth of natural, cultural and historical tourist attractions. Each has their own characteristics arising from the rich diversity of the nation’s multi-ethnic groups.
In recent years, Laos has seen very impressive tourism development. Various activities have been organised throughout the country, tourist attractions have been improved and festivals staged, thus enhancing Laos’ appeal as a tourist destination within the region.
In 2018, more than 4.1 million overseas tourists visited Laos, an 8.2 percent increase compared to 2017. Tourism generated revenue of more than US$755 million in 2018 alone. In 2019, it is expected that at least 4.5 million people will visit Laos, generating revenue of more than US$700 million.
Laos has worked closely with other sectors and local authorities to explore plans and develop visitor attractions in a way that is as sustainable as possible. Tourist sites have been classified into three categories: natural, historical and cultural. So far, 985 sites have been surveyed and identified. Some 257 sites have been identified as cultural attractions, 570 as being nature-based, and 162 as historical sites. 
There are four international airports situated in the country’s main tourist cities: Vientiane, the world heritage city of Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Champassak. Direct flights also come to Laos from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Republic of Korea and China.
The Lao PDR has strongly promoted foreign direct investment, partly through incentives outlined in the Investment Promotion Law. These include incentives by business sector, incentives by zone, incentives with regard to duty and taxes, incentives related to land use, and other incentives.
Investment can be carried out in five forms: wholly domestic or foreign-owned; a joint venture between domestic and foreign investors; business cooperation by contract; a joint venture between a state-owned enterprise and a private enterprise; and a public-private partnership.
Laos is happy to welcome investments from India in the areas of agriculture, hydropower and tourism.
When talking about Asean-India cooperation, India is an active dialogue partner of Asean. Asean-India dialogue relations have grown rapidly from a sectoral dialogue partnership in 1992 to a full dialogue partnership in December 1995. This partnership involves not just physical infrastructure connections, but also information and communication technology, as well as trade, commerce and tourism linkages.
“In light of the above, I strongly believe that the Asean Chambers of Commerce & Industry Business Meet can serve as a platform for the exchange of information based on the benefits gained from tourism policy makers and experts’ advice on tourism development, particularly for sustainable tourism, so that we are able to make the most of fast-approaching future opportunities,” Mr Savankhone said.
“The Lao PDR is willing to share its experiences with all participants on how tourism development can be a vehicle for linking and promoting tourism products to attract more international tourists and yield more economic value.”

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 8, 2019)

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