Laos reviews progress on sustainable tourism development at UNWTO meet

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government last week discussed its work in the area of sustainable tourism development with over 20 member countries of the UN World Tourism Organisation at a meeting in Bangladesh.

Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Savankhone Razmountry led a Lao delegation to attend the 29th Joint Meeting of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia and UNWTO Regional Forum on Crisis Communication in Bangladesh from May 15-17.

The Joint Meeting, which is the UNWTO´s principal annual event in the Asia-Pacific region, was attended by participants from UNWTO Member States, UNWTO Affiliate Members, and international and regional organisations.

Speaking at the event, Savankhone said “I am delighted to share the highlights of Laos with regard to International Year for Sustainable Tourism Development 2017. The Lao government has a policy to promote tourism and considers the tourism sector as having a high potential in contributing to the economic growth of the country.”

“Tourism is one of the 14 national priorities for 2017 under the National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2016-2020, which covers the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.”

Savankhone outlined some of the work done by his ministry in the field of tourism, including holding a consultation workshop with tourism stakeholders on “Greening the Lao Tourism Value Chain” and organising a training course on Global Sustainable Tourism Council Standards.

The ministry also developed a National Guideline on Sustainable Tourism Development for Laos, which will serve as a guideline for tourism developers from the public and private sectors. The guideline is expected to be adopted in 2018.

The ministry also produced a short video on sustainable tourism development, to raise public awareness about the subject and ensure economic, socio-cultural, environmental, and management sustainability.

The video will be officially launched in Vientiane on World Tourism Day in September.

Savankhone said “The year 2017 is greatly significant for the world’s tourism industry to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector which can foster inclusive economic growth, promoting the preservation and protection of historical, cultural and natural assets.”

“Last but not least, I have the great pleasure to inform the meeting that 2018 is ‘Visit Laos Year’. On behalf of the ministry and Laos as a whole I would like to invite all of you and your families to visit Laos to enjoy the beauty and discover the uniqueness of Laos.”

According to a press release from the Tourism Development Department, in 2016 Asia and the Pacific received 309 million international tourist arrivals, 9 percent more than in 2015. By 2030 this number is expected to reach 535 million.

Next year, the 30th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia will be held in Fiji.