VIENTIANE, 29 March 2017: Vientiane tourism authorities are planning to open a botanical garden to boost attractions for both tourists and residents in the capital city.
Lao News Agency reported on the official opening ceremony for the new botanical garden held late last week.
The site covers 15 hectares located in Dansy village, Naxaythong district of Vientiane.
Information, Culture and Tourism deputy minister, Boua-ngeun Saphouvong, was quoted saying the botanical garden will become a new tourist attraction for visitors.
But residents will appreciate having a new recreational area to take their families in addition to parkland on the banks of the Mekong River.
The garden is part of project to educate the general public to protect forests and give people the opportunity to experience nature in the capital city, he said.
The number of international tourists visiting Laos decreased by 10% from over 4.68 million in 2015 to 4.2 million last year.
Critics say the country lacks tourist attractions relying almost exclusively on the appeal of Luang Prabang a World Heritage town. Others suggest that Laos should not focus on tourist arrivals, or attempt to emulate Thailand’s success as a mass tourism destination. It should monitor success by the length of stay, revenue earned from tourism and offer a range of quality travel experiences focused on eco-tourism, culture and nature.
Most of the decline in tourist arrivals is attributed to low-priced tours and overland visits from neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam often linked to trade. These two markets contribute 50% of all foreign visitors to Laos, but financial value is often challenged.
The Lao government has an ambitious vision to attract over 6 million foreign visitors on an annual basis by 2020.
There are more than 1,960 tourist sites, including over 270 historical attractions, almost 540 cultural attractions and 1,145 natural tourist sites in Laos.
However, only 700 of sites have been developed and introduced to the public.
The most popular destinations are Vientiane capital, Luang Prabang, Champasak, and Vang Vieng (district) a backpacker ghetto 160 km from Vientiane on the highway to Luang Prabang.