Foreign tourists have spoken out about noisy music at tourist sites in Laos, highlighting the disturbance it causes to those who want to spend some quiet time in nature.
As a destination becoming more well-known for its untouched natural scenery, more and more tourists have been traveling to Laos to enjoy spectacular forested mountain views, tranquil waterfalls, and its system of limestone caves and caverns.
However, as tourist sites have developed, unchecked expansion of vendors and stalls replete with speaker systems blasting loud music have turned away some international tourists.
An Australian tourist voiced his grievances to the Laotian Times, emphasizing his desire to enjoy the country’s magnificent natural scenery without disruptions.
“It’s not very relaxing,” he commented. “I enjoy being close to nature, but whether I visit waterfalls or simply sit by the river, many spots are overcrowded with colossal speakers blaring techno music.”
Additionally, the Australian tourist raised concerns about the absence of garbage bins, suggesting that tourism authorities should address this issue. “There’s also a lot of littering at these places. I believe the authorities need to provide more bins to help with the proper disposal of waste.”
These concerns extend from Vang Vieng, one of Laos’ most frequented districts within Vientiane province, to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang and its surrounds.
A resort owner in Nong Khiaw village, located in the Luang Prabang Province, who asked to remain anonymous, also expressed concerns to the Laotian Times regarding a disruptive ‘party boat’ phenomenon.
“In my opinion, it [the boats] kill the ambiance and natural atmosphere of Nong Khiaw.”
According to the resort owner, the use of party boats for enjoying music, beer, and karaoke began in 2022 during the COVID-19 period when domestic Lao tourists were the primary visitors from Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
However, a tourism cultural clash has occurred as this trend has since become a source of disturbance for several foreign tourists.
“Many guests have complained, and I had to apologize and make excuses for the blaring noise, hoping they don’t write a negative review about the resort. I have seen loud party boats as late as 8 pm, in the middle of dinner service. I also want to mention that my local neighbors have also complained, as it disrupts their daily fishing activities on the river,” he added.
The resort owner further revealed that despite reporting the issue to the authorities and even attempting to record the noisy party boats on the river outside their resort, no actions have been taken thus far.
The issue of tourism businesses being affected by such disruptions is further highlighted by Matt Clancy, the Country Director of Laos for E-Asia Travel, a prominent player in the tourism sector in the country. He pointed out that this issue has significantly hampered tour operators’ ability to promote tourist attractions, ultimately resulting in a loss of tourism revenue.
In Matt’s view, the core problem lies in the inadequate enforcement of regulations rather than the presence of loud music itself. He emphasized the critical need for swift and effective enforcement of laws related to noise pollution.
Additionally, he stressed the importance of establishing a clear procedure for receiving public feedback and complaints, with mechanisms in place to escalate these concerns in cases where responsible parties fail to take action.
“As a travel company, our primary goal is to ensure the utmost satisfaction of our clients,” Matt explained. He highlighted instances where clients had to alter their itineraries on the spot, request refunds, or agency partners had to reconsider their promotions due to unmanageable issues like noise pollution.
Moreover, Matt revealed that when they identify specific hotels or areas consistently affected by noise pollution, they take proactive steps to avoid complaints from their clients. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to the blacklisting of properties or entire areas, even when it is not their fault.
“This affects our revenue as well as the local economy which ends up losing out. The only winners in these situations are those who enjoy the loud music.”
As Laos gears up for Visit Laos Year 2024, an ambitious campaign estimated to attract 4.6 million international tourists, the serene beauty of the country continues to be threatened by noise pollution at tourist hotspots, jeopardizing the harmony between nature and visitors who just want to enjoy some peace and quiet. Hence swift action on the part of authorities is essential to preserve Laos’ natural allure, protect its tourism industry, and support the local economy.