VIENTIANE, 16 June 2017: Vang Vieng’s tourism authorities will improve the standard of attractions, facilities and services to make the travel experience more rewarding.
Vientiane Times quoted a provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department official, Boualy Milattanapheng, saying authorities will upgrade tourist attractions, while also implementing service training to meet international standards as the country prepares for Visit Laos Year 2018.
“The department is ranking hotels and guesthouses standards from one to five stars, as well as offering hotel and guesthouse staff training.”
Garbage collection will be improved and staff at hotels will be trained to create more awareness among visitors to ensure they do not litter streets.
In addition, authorities have approved feasibility studies to build new tourist attractions, a hotel and sports complex and other facilities at the old airport site in Vang Vieng district will be developed.
Vang Vieng attracted 183,000 visitors last year generating more than 70 billion kip (USD8.52 million) from its tourism industry.
Of the total, 141,000 were international visitors. Efforts to clear the resort of unruly backpackers and reduce drug abuse has also been partially successful.
About half of all tourists in 2016 came from Asia, 30% from the EU and 20% from other parts of the world.
Vang Vieng is recognised for 43 natural tourist sites that include 34 caves, two waterfalls, four cliffs with viewpoints on top, and three natural reservoirs.
Most travellers visit the riverside town to chill-out in the small resorts and guest houses that line the river banks.
Vang Vieng has 145 places of accommodation for visitors, including 17 hotels, one ASEAN green-standardised hotel, 10 resorts, 116 guesthouses, and one homestay, which comprises of eight houses. It offers around 2,700 rooms, but the average occupancy is less than 50%.
There are more than 150 businesses involved in tourism-related services, such as catering, entertainment centres, massage parlours and souvenir shops, along with 16 tour companies, 21 kayaking service units, one river tubing service group and one long-tail boat service group.
Vang Vieng authorities have been battling the resort’s negative image in the media that portrays it as a backpackers destination. The media spotlight was on social ills associated with mass tourism such as drug abuse and culturally insensitive behaviour. Notices and guidebooks warn visitors not to wear immodest clothing when walking through the town.
Vang Vieng became infamous for its tourist ghetto packed with bars that attracted hordes of backpacking tourists. They drank heavily and partied late into the night. There were some serious drink-related accidents on roads and also drowning and drug related incidents.