Laos is gearing up to submit Luang Prabang province as a contender to receive the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Standard (ACTCS) in early 2018.
Deputy Director of the Tourism Development Department under the Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry, Ms Phonemaly Inthaphome, told Vientiane Times yesterday the world heritage town was holding its third meeting to discuss an application.
The meeting took place from November 14 to 16, where officials decided on an action plan, the sectors that would be responsible, funding sources, and the time it would take to process the project.
Luang Prabang has more potential than places in other provinces to receive the award. During our last meeting we collected information that would support Luang Prabang’s application. There are 108 criteria that need to be met, Ms Phonemaly said.
The first meeting, which took place in May, explained the potential of the province to win the award to local authorities and the private sector. This was done so they could help with the preparation of the application. The team visited landfill sites, water supply systems, handicraft and other commercial centres in the province to assess the town’s suitability.
Next year, we want to improve our chances of meeting the criteria before the final assessment in September, before we submit our application to ASEAN. If we receive the award, there will be a presentation ceremony in Thailand during the ASEAN Tourism Forum in early 2018, she said.
The third meeting of the team was organised by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in cooperation with Luang Prabang province. It was supported by the Regional Economic Integration of Laos into ASEAN, Trade and Entrepreneurship Development.
According to an international survey of 2,800 visitors in 2015, carried out by the Tourism Development Department, 83 percent of foreign tourists who visit Laos wanted to see Luang Prabang.
The survey was conducted at Wattay International Airport, the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge on entry into Vientiane, and in Luang Prabang and Champassak provinces.
The survey also revealed that the main interests of visitors were temples and monuments, which comprised 70 percent of visitors’ stated preferred activity.
Sixty-six percent said they were interested in viewing the countryside, 48 percent said they wanted to sample the food, and 34 percent expressed an interest in visiting a new destination.
Luang Prabang was most foreign visitors’ first choice because of its old and attractive temples and the activities of the monks who live in these temples.
Visitors also cited the town’s character and the fact that the local lifestyle was readily observable and accessible.
People in the province assiduously preserve their traditions through festivals and rituals such as Lao New Year, the Boat Racing Festival, the end of Buddhist Lent, ethnic festivals, baci ceremonies, almsgiving, and other temple-based activities.
It was these features that led UNESCO to list the town as a World Heritage Site in 1995, among 1,007 World Heritage Sites in 161 countries worldwide.
The province has regularly been voted as Best City’ by readers of the UK’s Wanderlust travel magazine. Luang Prabang has received the award on seven occasions from 2006 to 2015 (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015).
Source: Vientiane Times