ADB loan for Lao tourism

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VIENTIANE, 19 February 2015: Asian Development Bank and Lao PDR have launched a tourism infrastructure project which will also help establish provincial and national-level Destination Management Organisations.

The workshop launch of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth Project — the third tourism project ADB has supported in the country’s tourism sector — was attended by Lao PDR Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism vice minister, Chaleune Warinthrasak and ADB senior portfolio management specialist, Steven Schipani, along with other government and provincial officials.

ADB’s USD40 million project loan will be targeted at tourism infrastructure upgrades, including road improvements needed to provide better access and local market links in four provinces —Champasak, Khammouane, Luang Prabang, and Oudomxay.

inside no 6These provinces have been chosen because of their strategic locations along established Greater Mekong Sub-region corridors. The government will contribute USD3.6 million to the project, which will run from 2015 to 2019.

Strengthening tourism infrastructure will also give impetus to the DMO initiative, which aims to create tourism support networks with representatives from government ministries, travel-related business associations, and development/donor agencies. The goal is to create and execute coordinated marketing and promotional strategies for activities and events.

“DMO’s can be a good forum to bring together tourism stakeholders to share knowledge on good practices and strengthen cooperation for destination marketing and product development,” said Mr Schipani.

Mr Warinthrasak noted that establishing DMO’s will “foster closer cooperation among the public and private sectors and international development partners to develop Lao PDR as a well-known tourist destination.”

The new tourism project includes USD13.8 million for improvements to the Chom-Ong Cave site in Oudomxay, with upgrades to the 54 km access road, information and reception centres, kiosks, cave illumination, a parking lot with stairs to the cave entrance, signs, and tourist facilities.

In Luang Prabang, USD7.25 million is earmarked to improve the 10 km access road from Route 13 to Pak-Ou Village and its popular caves, via Ban Xang Hai. The road will also be used to link local agriculture and handicraft producers with the city.

Luang Prabang’s Mekong River Ferry Terminal in Chomphet Heritage District will also receive a USD3 million upgrade, including an information centre, improved access road, and tourist comfort facilities.

Xang Cave, a few kilometers north of Thakaek on Khammouane Province’s “Loop” circuit, will benefit from a 4 km access road and bridge, cave illumination, and a reception and information center, costing around USD2.5 million.

Officials from the four provinces conducted brief workshops to create lists of potential DMO members and activities.