Laos, South Korea seek ways to partner in sustainable tourism development

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Senior officials from Laos and South Korea and representatives of the tourism industry on Friday shared their experiences of the tourism sector at a workshop held in Vientiane.

Discussions centred on ways to encourage more Koreans to visit Laos.

Speaking at the workshop, Head of Office of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Vansy Kouamoua, said the Asean-Korea tourism capacity-building workshop was a good opportunity to learn lessons from other Asean member countries.

Mr Vansay said it was important to understand ecotourism developments encouraged by the United Nations, and cooperation and best practice in terms of the promotion of ecotourism.

It was also important to build the capacity of tourism personnel to interact with Korean visitors, he added.

“This workshop will explore ways to improve service quality in Laos as well as in other Asean countries. We believe that the expertise of the speakers and the close attention of all participants will serve to achieve our goals,” Mr Vansy said.

Also speaking at the workshop, Secretary General of the Asean-Korea Centre Ambassador Lee Hyuk noted that the theme of this year’s workshop was Growing Green: Environmental Preservation and Marketing Strategies for Tourism SMEs.

“We are especially targeting SMEs - the growth engine of tourism in Laos - and sustainability - one of the most significant issues in tourism,” he added.

Tourism is proven to be the fuel of the Lao economy and is the second greatest contributing sector to GDP with an annual growth rate of 8.2 percent.

The number of Koreans visiting Laos has increased significantly since several Korean television shows featured Laos, with 174,405 Korean visitors coming to Laos last year alone, Mr Lee Hyuk said.

However, while eco-rich tourist assets have grown the industry considerably, it has raised issues relating to over-tourism, such as congestion and pollution, as well as fair profit-sharing.

“Through this workshop we would like to address these points and find room for further development,” he added.

Participants would be able to identify the roles of SMEs as being key to the development of the tourism industry and a mainstay of sustainable tourism, and also learn more about the characteristics of Korean tourists.

“I hope the presentations and discussions will guide you through a new phase of acknowledgement that can make tourism more sustainable and greener,” Mr Lee Hyuk said.

In 2018 visitor arrivals to Laos topped 4.1 million, up 8.2 percent and generating revenue of more than US$811 million. More than 174,000 South Koreans visited Laos - an increase of 2 percent compared to 2017.

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