Hundreds of visitors flocked to the second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo (STSE) this past weekend, marking a new commitment to sustainability within the tourism and hospitality industries.
The two-day event held at the Crowne Plaza Vientiane, opened on the morning of 27 September 2019 with a ceremony presided over by Professor Dr. Bosengkham Vongdala, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Ounethouang Khaophanh, Vice Minister in charge of Tourism at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Saynakhone Inthavong, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as Mr. Jens Lütkenherm, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Lao PDR.
“I firmly believe that this exhibition will promote the general development of tourism in the Lao PDR, especially in Vientiane Capital, on a green and sustainable path of development,” said Dr. Vongdala in his opening remarks. “It will also promote the creation of Vientiane Capital as a quality tourism destination that will become an ASEAN Clean Tourist City in the future.”
The STSE has proven itself to be the region’s leading specialized fair for the tourism industry to celebrate, explore, and exhibit the latest trends, insights, and technology in sustainable tourism and hospitality practices. This year, in handmade bamboo booths, fifty-four exhibitors from Laos and the Mekong region showcased their products, services, and initiatives over the course of event, which was free to attend. These companies represented several categories relevant to the theme at hand: eco-friendly hotel supplies, handicrafts, organic food, initiatives and projects, as well as responsible tours and accommodation.
Addressing a large crowd of business owners and managers, sustainability experts, as well as Lao government officials, the German ambassador remarked during the opening ceremony that “The tourism sector is becoming ever more important for the economy of Lao PDR. Today, it already ranks third among the export industries in this country. The Lao tourism sector has great potential to further grow and provide many more qualified jobs. In order to align the tourism industry with the overall green growth strategy, sustainable tourism solutions play a crucial role in the development of the sector.”
Feedback collected from exhibitors and visitors showed that the event was incredibly fruitful on both sides, with hundreds of new business contacts made, supplier contracts signed, and an immeasurable amount of information exchanged.
The second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo was organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, with support from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Lao Association of Travel Agents (LATA), the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association (LHRA), the Small and Medium Enterprises Service Centre (SSC) operated by the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Department of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (Ministry of Industry and Commerce) and the Regional Economic Integration of Laos into ASEAN – Trade and Entrepreneurship Development (RELATED) Project of the German Development Cooperation.