Tag Archives: tourism

Wildlife In Sights: Pressures On Iconic Tiger, Elephant Draws Media Attention To Challenges Facing Laos

Tiger & Elephant Populations Under Local, Regional, Global Pressure: Laos biodiversity in the international media spotlight.

With the release of a major UN report on biodiversity loss, the state of and threats to wildlife worldwide and in hotspots like Laos including iconic species like the tiger and elephant draw more international media attention, The Laotian Times reports.

The most comprehensive ever completed, the UN Report IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ 

The efforts of one award-winning wildlife defender to shed light on the plight of animals kept at illegal tiger farms posing as zoos in Laos was covered by the Washington Post.

Emaciated Tiger (Washington Post)

Emaciated Tiger (Washington Post)

“They all want hope and happy endings,” The Washington Post quotes Swiss conservationist Ammann as saying of many well-meaning yet naive folk at home and around the world.

“And I don’t see any happy endings. I can’t create fiction from what I see as fact,” 

Alleged Tiger Trader Nikhom Keovised (Washington Post)

Alleged Tiger Trader Nikhom Keovised (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, pachyderms were the focus of coverage by US-based National Public Radio (NPR) ‘A Million Elephants’ No More: Conservationists In Laos Rush To Save An Icon.

“The national government also has a reputation of being supportive of elephant conservation efforts across Laos. Within the last 30 years, catching wild elephants and trading wildlife have been banned. Laws severely restrict the logging industry in its use of elephants. Yet, despite these efforts, “if current trajectories continue there will be no elephants left in Laos by the year 2030,” NPR quoted an article co-written by Chrisantha Pinto, an American biologist at the center, as saying.

Challenges Facing Laos' Wildlife including Iconic Tigers and Elephants (NPR)

Challenges Facing Lao’ Wildlife including Iconic Tigers and Elephants (NPR)

The challenges facing the planet, its plants and animals are real.

What Would Buddha Do?

With a biodiversity hotspot like Laos under pressure from regional and global pressures brought by unsustainable human activity and law-breaking, it’s time to get serious about enforcing the rule of law to protect what natural beauty the country has left for the next generations of our and all species.

Angkor What? Explore Ancient Architecture on Smaller Scale At Savannakhet’s Stone House

Ancient Heritage That's Older Than Angkor: Savannakhet's Stone House Heuan Hin

Laotian Times‘ own Laotian Eye Takes A Look To Laos’ Pre-Angkorean Treasures Of The Ancient Khmer Empire At The Stone House Huean Hin On a Trip to Savannakhet Province.

Flying In: Singapore’s Scoot Swoops Into Laos’ Vientiane, World Heritage Listed Luang Prabang

Flying from Singapore to Laos and beyond just got easier after Scoot launched its inaugural flights from the city-state to the jewel of the Mekong.

The inaugural journey marks the start of a three-times-weekly service from Singapore to Luang Prabang and Vientiane.

The flight was reported in local media including The Laotian Times sister publication ລາວໂພສຕ໌ Laopost.

The addition of the two destinations in Laos brings to a total of 67 in Scoot’s network across 19 countries and territories.

It is also the only airline offering direct Singapore-Laos services after routes were transferred from sister airline SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines.

The routes will be operated with Scoot’s A320 aircraft.

To celebrate Scoot’s maiden flight to Laos, traditional Lao music was played over the sound system in the aircraft.

Passengers onboard were tested on their knowledge of Laos and Scoot in a fun quiz.

Five lucky passengers walked away with prizes including Scoot travel voucher valued at SGD100, a Scoot travel organizer, a Laos travel guide, Scoot-in-Style lounge access and for the kids, a Scoot Nano Brick Aircraft and Control Tower Playset.

The flights operate on a circular routing departing from Singapore for Luang Prabang, followed by Vientiane, before heading back to Singapore.

Chief Commercial Officer of Scoot Mr Vinod Kannan welcomed guests celebrating the inaugural flight.

“Laos is a hidden gem that is yet to be discovered by many and is the ideal destination for people looking to escape from the concrete jungle,” he said.

“With Vientiane and Luang Prabang joining our network, our customers now have more travel choices, and travelers from Laos can also explore more destinations around the world via Singapore.”

Upon landing at Luang Prabang Airport and Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, the A320 aircraft named Yellow Tail, was greeted with a traditional water cannon salute.

Travel Plans? Laos Set to Provide eVisa From June 2019

Laos EVisa Program Planned for June Implementation

Laos has announced it will begin offering electronic visas (eVisa) to foreign tourists and travelers from June this year.

Establishment of the eVisa program will commence in mid-2019, according to a Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice issued earlier this month dated March 11.

Laos' eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Laos’ eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The move comes as the government takes steps to modernize and ensure visa procedures are faster and more convenient for tourist visa applicants, according to the notice.

It is also another means by which the government hopes to attract more tourism to the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consular office is working with all other ministries and departments to ensure the comprehensive and timely development of the eVisa program.

The eVisa program, it is hoped, will allow foreign visitors greater access to information and more convenience in visa processing, and will assist in making the country more widely known among tourists.

It comes as policymakers and the private sector seek to capitalize on the benefits of improved connectivity and widen the range of offerings to attract valuable tourism and travel-related income and investment.

© The Laotian Times

 

Thailand May Reinstate Land Border Entry for Expats in Neighboring Countries

Thailand Visas

Could the cross-border retail and recreation-related dreams of foreign expatriates, non-diplomats and other non-Lao-non-ASEAN-passport-holding residents in Laos be about to come true across the Mekong in Thailand once again visa-free?

Laos’ near neighbour is reportedly considering removing the restrictions on land border entry affecting foreign expatriates in neighbouring countries including Laos for an initial period of two months, both The Nation and Bangkok Post reported on November 14.

Bangkok Post's List of Planned Changes includes a proposed lift on restrictions affecting expatriate residents of Laos.

Bangkok Post’s List of Planned Changes includes a proposed lift on restrictions on land border entry, potentially improving connectivity for expatriate residents of Laos.

The move would loosen restrictions that have been in place since December 31, 2016 as reported by Laotian Times.

The reported move from the country’s cabinet Tuesday comes amid efforts by Thailand’s policymakers to attract more visitor arrivals.

Other proposed measures also include double-entry visas for six months and special discounts at Thai malls under the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale: Passport Privileges” campaign that continues from November 15 to January 15, 2019.

Since the start of 2017, limits on land border entry have affected foreign non-ASEAN passport holding expatriates (including those eligible to a visa-waiver), restricting them to just two single visa-free entries on arrival via the country’s land border points per year.

It remains to be seen whether the mooted liberalization will come in the form of carving out an exemption for foreign expatriates or result in the removal of the two-times-per-year land border entry restriction entirely.

Either way, a loosening on the restriction is likely to be welcome news, particularly to those for whom visa application processes and fees have proved onerous enough to prevent them from regularly visiting otherwise accessible destinations located on the far side of mighty Mekong.

Thai Visas

Simple, Natural, Innovative As BambooLao Straws Slurp Up Tourism Award

Luang Prabang’s very own BambooLao has captured the top prize and a US$10,000 Innovation Grant in the 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) challenge, which is described as “an elite travel startup competition, supported by the Australian Government and Asian Development Bank, (including) Asia’s most prominent travel-specialized venture capitalists among its advisors.

“BambooLao is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastics from hotels and resorts across Asia. They have produced more than 80,000 reusable bamboo straws and other bamboo utensils, using indigenous bamboo varieties and a proprietary natural treatment process.

“Their straws are used by Aman Group, Pullman, Rosewood Group, and Sofitel properties, as well as EXO Travel tours. BambooLao estimates their environmentally-friendly products have displaced the use of 5 million single-use plastic straws.”

MIST’s top prize comes with a USD10,000 innovation grant.

 

BambooLao

Winner of MIST’s 2018 Startup Accelerator, Laos’ Luang Prabang’s BambooLao.

“The MIST innovation grant will help us scale–up production from one to three villages. We must invest in capacity to meet growing international demand,” said BambooLao founder Arounothay Khoungkhakoune was reported as saying.

Bamboo Straws Production
Bamboo straw production a community process.

Vietnamese startup Ecohost reportedly captured MIST’s second prize and received a USD5,000 grant. Ecohost facilitates quality tourism experiences in the Vietnamese countryside, working with rural communities to develop tours and activities while improving the capacity of local homestays to serve international guests.

“BambooLao, Ecohost, and other MIST finalists demonstrate how the Mekong region’s bright, innovative entrepreneurs are finding practical solutions to solve industry problems while striving to make tourism more inclusive and sustainable,” said Jens Thraenhart, co-organizer of MIST and executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

According to the organisation, “MIST supports high-growth-potential emerging market startups in travel and hospitality, particularly startups that generate positive impacts for communities, culture, and the environment. The program’s five 2018 finalists refined their business acumen and pitching skills during MIST’s weeklong business fundamentals boot camp, five months of customized coaching by industry experts, and MIST pitch competitions in Ho Chi Minh City, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and ITB-Asia’s Mekong Travel Startup Forum in Singapore.”

 

Tourism Access, Urban Services Improvements Attract $US125.5 Million Boost via ADB in Laos

Tourist Map of Bolaven, Champasak Province

Better roads to ease access to tourist hotspots, improved urban water supplies and sewage treatment are among the sweeteners revealed in the announcement of funds totalling $125.5 million for three projects in the tourism and urban sectors announced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Lao Government.

Agreements were signed by Deputy Minister of Finance Ms Thipphakone Chanthavongsa and ADB Country Director to the Lao PDR Mr Yasushi Negishi at a ceremony in Vientiane. Representatives of the nation’s Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Planning and Investment; Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT); Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICT); and other line ministries also attended the event.

The announcement comes after the ADB forecasted a revision in Laos’ economic growth rate to 6.6% as floods dampened prospects in September’s Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2018.

Managing urbanization, tourism, attracting investments for vibrant, livable cities and towns 

“Vibrant, livable cities and towns play an important role in the development of industry and services, particularly manufacturing, agribusiness and tourism”, Asian Development Bank‘s Lao PDR Country Director Mr Yasushi Negishi told the gathering.

“The three grants demonstrate ADB’s commitment to help the Lao PDR sustainably manage urbanization, tourism, and attract investments that create good jobs in a wide range of economic sectors, helping the country to be eligible to graduate from the least developed country status.”

The $47 million grant for the Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth Project will support MICT’s efforts to rehabilitate last mile access roads to tourism destinations, improve tourist-related urban environmental services, and enhance sustainable tourism management in Louangphabang, Vientiane, and Champasak provinces. The grant was approved by ADB’s Board of Directors in August 2018.

The project’s climate resilient transport and urban infrastructure investments and support for tourist-related capacity building are designed to boost tourism development and deepen the Lao PDR’s economic integration with neighbors in the GMS and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Meanwhile, a $48 million grant for the Fourth GMS Corridor Towns Development Project to improve urban environmental services, including the construction of wastewater treatment plants and sewerage networks, solid waste management, and river embankments for flood protection in two corridor towns of Pakxan and Thakhek will be implemented by MPWT.

Approved in September 2018, the project will also support the preparation of town master plans with climate-resilience and gender-responsive measures for both areas to support growth and regional connectivity.

A third grant, amounting to $30.5 million, is an additional funding for an ongoing ADB-assisted Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project also to be implemented by MPWT.

This additional financing will expand access to safe and reliable water supply and sanitation services in six towns in Attapeu, Xekong, Huaphan, and Luang Prabang provinces, as well as improve the operational and financial efficiency of provincial water utilities in the provinces.

According to the Bank’s press statement, the “ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled 32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co-financing.”

Si Phan Don – The Original River Life Experience

River Life Experience Tour Southern Laos

When I first visited Si Phan Don, which literally translates to Four Thousand Islands, I had the feeling that the pace of life in the rest of Laos might be a little fast. Here is where I came to understand the true meaning of ‘sabai-sabai’ or ‘taking it easy’.