VangVieng may already be a tourist hotspot but the small town might become an even bigger tourist attraction in the future. Yijin Construction Engineering Lao Co., Ltd. has expressed interest in developing a tourism complex on an outdated airfield in the frequently travelled city, anticipating even more tourist traffic annually.
On Tuesday, the provincial authorities agreed that the Chinese owned company could start a feasibility study for the project which will take about a year to conclude.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the authorities and the company on February 28, the project site covers 15 hectares of land.
The airfield occasionally serves as a landing site for helicopters carrying senior government officials visiting local communities and various business people, but for the most part has been neglected.
If the company does decide to invest in the project, the complex will include; a concert hall, exhibition hall, an ‘ice playground’, fountain park, shopping centre, children’s recreation area, water park, hotels, apartments, restaurants, bars and will cost an estimated $200 million USD to build.
According to the province’s Department of Planning and Investment Director, the airport was managed by the Ministry of Defence, and project authorisation would conclusively depend on what the government decides is appropriate.
It was also added that the investors would need to build a symbolic landmark for the town aside from the development of the project, possibly a ‘city pillar’.
Since the airfield has been vacant and seldom used in past years, the five villages running parallel to the airfield have intruded on the state land with homes and businesses being built on the property.
The director confirmed that if the project were to proceed residents would be required to demolish encroaching properties.
Known for its beautiful landscapes and relaxed surroundings, Vangvieng is a popular tourist destination in Laos. Based on the district’s Office of Information, Culture and Tourism more than 180,000 people visited Vangvieng in 2016, generating around 73 billion kip in income for local communities.
Of the arrivals in Vangvieng 140,000 were foreign nationals with about 45 percent coming from Europe.
The provincial authorities recently gave permission to another company to conduct a feasibility study on the development of a tourism complex in the same district, where the Nam Xong and Nam Lik rivers meet.
The aim is to have tourism facilities available to accommodate and attract more tourists to the towns.