Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his retinue made a working visit to Vang Vieng last week to assess the district and offer advice on how to better develop the tourist town.
The PM met with Vang Vieng District Governor Khamphong Douangvilay, and visited a number of development projects in the district, including the construction site of the Lao-China Railway, which will include a passenger platform in Vang Vieng upon completion.
He noted that the cost of goods and services remains overly high in Vang Vieng, and the district faces problems with cleanliness and orderliness, noting that wastewater is still being dumped into rivers, according to an article in the Lao Post.
He spoke of the need to ensure projects are completed on time and in accordance with approved project plans. He also mentioned that infrastructure projects should be in harmony with nature, protecting the natural tourism attractions of Vang Vieng.
Prime Minister Thongloun visited a number of tourist attractions, including Tham Nang Fa and Tham Nohn caves, noting that developers must make better efforts to protect both the environment and the safety of tourists.
Vang Vieng is finally shrugging off its reputation as a notorious party town following news reports on the deaths of young tourists several years ago.
The Prime Minister gave his opinion on the development of the district, stating that while Vang Vieng has seen some good development, there are many issues that require urgent attention. He said that development of the area has not been implemented according to urban planning, and that the district profoundly lacks a concrete and sustainable tourism plan.
Mr Thongloun said that in order to continue developing Vang Vieng as a tourism destination, its potential must be explored and utilized effectively for the benefit of the nation. He instructed relevant ministry officials to coordinate with Vientiane Province authorities in drafting a new sustainable development strategy for Vang Vieng. The strategy is to be used as a reference when authorizing any new projects or investments.
He instructed authorities to curb the inflated cost of goods and services in Vang Vieng, including food and accommodation pricing, and to promote cleanliness and the planting of organic produce for consumption. He also said that protection of the environment should be the number one priority in order to ensure Vang Vieng maintains its pristine natural scenery.
“Disposal of wastewater into rivers and littering must be stopped, while the construction of entertainment venues in conflict with the special conditions of Vang Vieng should be reconsidered,” said the PM.
The problems faced by the district in the past should be left in the past, and social problems should be dealt with swiftly to ensure tranquility in the tourist town. Tourism infrastructure must be strengthened, and capacity building must be implemented among tourism and hospitality industry staff to ensure quality services are provided, giving tourists a good travel experience.
Finally, the PM suggested authorities look toward neighboring countries that have benefited from tourism, and to learn from these countries in order to better develop the district of Vang Vieng.