Launch of Visit Laos-China Year 2019 ‘highly possible’, minister says

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Lao authorities have engaged in talks with their Chinese counterparts to push forward a plan to jointly introduce Visit Laos-China Year 2019, a minister has said.

“The launch of the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 campaign is highly possible,” Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara told the ongoing 4th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s 8th Legislature.

“We are currently discussing the details with the Chinese side.”

Chinese Ambassador to Laos Wang Wentian told Lao and Chinese media at his embassy in Vientiane last week that there was the potential for and possibility of launching Visit Laos-China Year 2019. The envoy said Laos has a lot more for foreign visitors to explore thanks to its long history, stunning scenery and many fascinating attractions, combined with sincere and hospitable people who like to welcome visitors.

Meanwhile, more and more Chinese tourists are coming to Laos for holidays, with about 700,000 Chinese visiting Laos last year.

Chinese tourists form a significant part of the total, with the number topping 4.23 million people in 2016.

Although Laos and China have enjoyed sound cooperation in tourism over past years, the ambassador said there was potential to increase the number of Chinese visitors to Laos. Currently, some 120 million Chinese take vacations abroad each year on average, and are dominating the global tourism market.

“If just one percent of Chinese outbound tourists came to Laos, the country would receive as many as 1.2 million Chinese visitors a year,” Ambassador Wang said. In light of this potential, the ambassador said he initiated the idea of jointly launching Visit Laos-China Year 2019 when he called on Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara shortly after he took office as the Chinese Ambassador to Laos.

The ambassador said his embassy fully supports the concept and would assist Laos to run a publicity campaign in China to promote Lao tourism, especially during Visit Laos Year 2018.

Both the Chinese and Lao sides should look at ways to run the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 campaign by making use of lessons learnt during Visit Laos Year 2018.

“The proposed launch of Visit Laos-China Year 2019 is a lead-up to the completion of the Laos-China railway,” he said, referring to the slated completion date of 2021.

“Although the initiative has not yet been approved, I am confident that through the efforts of both sides, the proposal will be welcomed.”

The ambassador added that such a promotion, aimed at bringing more Chinese visitors to Laos, would make the most effective use of the Laos-China railway.

In his commentary titled ‘China and Laos: Working together for a community with a shared future and strategic significance’ published in Vientiane Times yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that Beijing would support Laos in hosting Visit Laos Year 2018. “China will support Laos in hosting the 2018 Tourism Year, encourage more Chinese tourists to visit Laos and experience the unique charm of Lao history and culture,” wrote President Xi, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

The article was published ahead of President Xi’s arrival in Laos for a two-day state visit from November 13-14.

Founder and CEO of Destination and Lifestyle Media (Thailand) Co., Ltd., Stephen Morton, said that if visas on arrival from the Chinese side were provided at the border, this would give a significant boost to Visit Laos-China Year if the scheme were  implemented.

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