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Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Party Chief meets top Lao leaders

General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nong Duc Manh had separate meetings with leaders of the Lao national assembly, government and mass organisation in Vientiane on April 13, discussing measures to enhance bilateral ties.

General Secretary Manh stressed that the Vietnamese Party and State is whole-heartedly dedicated to the continuing mission of strengthening and fostering the traditional relations, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos , in line with the aspirations of its two peoples and contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world as a whole.

He praised Laos on its admirable achievements in socio-economic development, the maintenance of political stability, the improvement of people’s living conditions, and the expansion of external relations, which have contributed to elevating the country’s profile and position in the international arena.

Chairman of the Lao National Assembly Thoongsing Thammavong expressed his pleasure at the close cooperation between the two legislative bodies in both bilateral and multilateral areas. He thanked the Vietnamese National Assembly for its practical assistance, particularly in human resources training, and the upgrade of facilities and equipment.

The Lao National Assembly will spare no effort to foster the traditional friendship and special solidarity with Vietnam, Chairman Thoongsing Thammavong affirmed, stressing the Lao NA’s support for and coordination with the Vietnamese NA at regional and international inter-parliamentary forums, including the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), to help the latter fulfil its duty as AIPA Chair in 2010.

General Secretary Manh said the two legislative bodies need to promote cooperation and the exchange of experiences in legislation as well as the implementation of oversight and decision-making functions, along with joint checks and the acceleration of the two governments’ implementation of bilateral agreements.

President of the Lao Front for National Construction Sisavath Keobounphanh affirmed his organisation will spare no effort to contribute to the special traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries’ people, particularly those in localities sharing a common borderline.

General Secretary Manh hailed the Lao Front for National Construction and the Vietnam Fatherland Front for the role in boosting ties between the two countries.

He urged the two mass organisations to provide mutual help in personnel training, contributing to strengthening the great national unity and national construction and defence in each country.

Prime Minister Bouason Bouphavanh said the Lao government will promote and facilitate the cooperation between Vietnamese ministries, agencies and localities and their Lao counterparts on development, and encourage major Vietnamese businesses to invest in Laos , especially in energy, transport, post, telecommunications, oil and gas, and industrial crop planting.

General Secretary Manh and PM Bouason Bouphavanh agreed that the two governments need to work together in promoting and overseeing the implementation of high-level bilateral agreements, easing difficulties and creating more conditions for ministries, agencies, localities and firms of both countries to cooperate.

The two sides also need to give priority to each other, accelerate trade and the exchange of goods and services, and cooperate in taking measures to fully tap each country’s potential based on equal partnership and mutual benefit, they said.

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Asian parliamentarians to discuss population, climate change in Laos
HANOI, April 21 (PNA/Xinhua) -- More than 100 parliamentarians and experts from over 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region will meet in Laos to discuss population, development and climate change issues from April 25 to 26, Lao newspaper the Vientiane Times reported Wednesday.

Themed in "Population and Adaptation to Climate Change", the 26th Asian Parliamentarians' Meeting on Population and Development will focus on topics such as climate change and women, population issues with adaptation strategies to climate change, and concrete measures to combat climate change.

At the meeting, parliamentarians will share information and experience from their respective countries on the way their populations have been, and will be, affected by global climate change, according to the newspaper.

A statement on population issues and adaptation to climate change is expected to be adopted at the end of the meeting.

The statement will bring together the voices of parliamentarians from the region, providing necessary facts to support and pressure governments on their commitment to population issues, both locally and globally, said the newspaper. (PNA/Xinhua)

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
More Airports To Be Built And Improved In Northern Laos
VIENTIANE, April 26 (Bernama) -- Feasibility studies are being conducted for the possibility of constructing new airports and improving the existing ones in northern provinces in Laos, its news agency KPL reported.

"We are cooperating with international organisations on conducting the feasibility studies on the construction and improvement of airports in northern provinces such as Xiengkhouang, Houaphanh and Bokeo," said Director of the Civil Aviation Department Yakua Lopangkao.

Yakua added that this will also improve air transportation and boost tourism in northern Laos.

He said the government with some financial loans from foreign countries have invested billions of kip in projects to improve five airports of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Champassak and Luang Namtha.

Once Pakse Airport has been improved it will be able to support 150-seat aircrafts like Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s, said Yakua, adding that Luang Prabang airport is being improved to accommodate 400-seat aircrafts and its US$ 8 million improvement is projected to complete in 2013.

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
VIENTIANE, April 29 (NNN-KPL) -- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has distributed improved rice seeds in five provinces that were affected by last year's devastating typhoon Ketsana in the southern parts of Lao PDR.

Two teams distributed seeds directly to 11,380 households in 238 target villages in the five provinces. A total of 440 tons of rice seeds were distributed from the end of February to the middle of April 2010.

The distribution was done by the FAO emergency staff in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and provincial agriculture and forestry office and district agriculture and forestry office in sixteen districts in the five affected provinces: Savannakhet, Saravane, Champassak, Attapeu and Sekong.

In some cases, the teams could not access villages as there are not roads for example in Kalum district, Sekong province.

"We are happy that the farmers got their seeds before the next planting season. We have tried to reach all targeted villages as planned despite many roads being damaged or under reconstruction," said Mr. Boun Ome Soulideth, FAO emergency staff.

"Even though Ketsana hit the country a few months ago, the people living in the affected areas are still suffering its consequences. Rice stocks and harvests were lost, and many people are still struggling with food shortages," says Serge Verniau, FAO Representative in Lao PDR.

"Households continue struggling to rebuild their livelihoods and their own means of food production. There is still an emergency for many of these families," Mr. Verniau added.

The FAO rehabilitation work in the typhoon-affected areas has began with the support of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and will continue thanks to the support from the Government of Sweden and the Principality of Andorra that have respectively provided 3 million Sweden krona and 24,985 euro to the FAO to assist with the relief work for communities affected by typhoon Ketsana.

Typhoon Ketsana affected some of the most vulnerable and poor districts in Laos. The disaster has been classified as the most severe in the region in the last 40 years. More than 180,000 people were severely affected and many of them became food insecure as houses, storage facilities, and rice fields were washed away by the storm and subsequent floods.

The UN has since September worked in close cooperation with the Lao government to assess the emergency needs and provide assistance to affected communities.

Meanwhile, farmers in Sikhottabong district, Vientiane Capital, and Nongbok district, Khammouane province, are speeding up harvesting their dry season rice crops.

Mr Soulin Inthathilath, Deputy Head of the Agriculture and Forestry Office of Sikhottabong district, said that farmers in his district were focusing on their rice harvesting and so far they had harvested 85 per cent of their rice farmland 790 ha.

Mr. Soulin said that the rice yielding in this season would not meet the target because it was very hot when rice began to bear fruit. He expected that the rice harvesting of the local farmers would complete within this month.

In the meantime, farmers in Nongbok district, Khammouane province, began their rice harvest early this month and the harvesting of 1,000 ha rice farmland in the district is expected to be over by the end of this month.

So far the farmers have completed their rice harvesting by 65 per cent of the total area. It is believed that the district would yield between 5-6 tonnes of rice per hectare.

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ADB urges Laos to improve business environment
Laos needs to accelerate improvement of the business environment otherwise it will be difficult to maintain strong economic growth in upcoming decades, according to the Asian Development Bank.

“Diversifying the economy's sources of growth and generating more jobs to absorb the growing labour force remain major longer term challenges. Mining and hydropower boost growth but offer few jobs,” the bank states in its Asian Development Outlook 2010.

The bank made the recommendations for Laos after the country slipped in th e World Bank's “Doing Business 2010” ranking to 167 of 183 countries, and in Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perception Index to 158 of 180 countries.

The bank also urged the government to build a fiscal framework that channels revenue from the hydropower and mining sectors into projects that expand production capacity and reduce poverty.

Improvement of the business environment will enable Laos to attract more foreign investment, in particular in the non resource sector, one of the main conditions for ensuring sustainable economic growth .

At present, about 80 percent of foreign direct investment goes to the resource sector, including mining and hydropower, which will one day be exhausted. Investment has increased in recent years but is still small scale.

Economists said the Lao government should take serious action to create better conditions for foreign investors to process natural resources in Laos before exporting them to foreign markets so they can add more value to Lao products.

Laos has plenty of natural resources including timber, minerals, water and fertile land suitable for rice and cash crop cultivation and the supply of raw materials to local processing industries.

Another major goal for the government to achieve is membership in the World Trade Organisation, which will enable Laos to export its products to world markets. At present, Laos exports to the European Union and other countries that charge only low import tariffs.

Overseas businessmen have urged the government to simplify the investment approval procedure after they encountered considerable problems obtaining an investment licence.

They also want the government to provide them with timely information on investment so they can decide whether to go ahead with projects. They also need cheap, skilled labour and cheaper power so they can manufacture Lao products at competitive prices.

At present, many investors bring in large numbers of foreign workers to Laos, even though this means they are in violation of the Labour Law.

The government has acknowledged the need to improve the business environment to boost domestic and private investment. It has revised the Investment Promotion Law, which is expected to come into force in the near future.

The government believes this law and the improvement of laws to meet WTO requirements will go some way towards improving the business climate.

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59,344 Posts
Laos Tourism
Tourism was the second largest contributor, after mining, to Laos’s GDP. Laos expects tourism to be the top contributor to its economic growth and is focusing on promoting eco-tourism to international markets. Laos recorded 1.2 million tourist arrivals that generated US$173 million for the country and projects 1.3 million arrivals with $190 million generated from tourism in 2007. In 2007, Laos welcomed 420,000 visitors, up 30% year-on-year. It projects two million visitors with $290 million revenue in 2010. The government has made tourism development, with the focus on ecotourism, one of 11 priority sectors to help improve standards of living - a way of generating income for local people, raising awareness about environmental conservation, encouraging local production and protecting Lao’s multiethnic culture and traditions

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
VIENTIANE, May 17 (NNN-Bernama) -- The Lao Airlines has announced recently to cancel some of its flights particularly the Vientiane-Savannakhet-Siem Reap (Cambodia) route, due to the decrease in the passenger number and, the ash issue in European countries and the political problem in a neighbouring country.

Sitthideth Douangsitthi, head of the Marketing Department of the Lao Airlines, disclosed that the company had to stop and cancel some flights in order to save the status of the company.

In order to maintain its service to Siem Reap in Cambodia, the Lao Airlines has started to operate its flight on the Vientiane-Bangkok-Siem Reap route, reported Laos news agency (KPL).

Sitthideth Douangsitthi added that the airlines would operate regular flights on two routes Vientiane-Luang Prabang and Vientiane-Champassak routes that are connected to destinations in neighbouring countries.

The National Tourism Administration of Laos has expected that more than two million of foreign tourists will come to Laos in 2010 while the number of tourist arrivals in Laos in 2009 reached 1.7 million.

Lao Airlines is the national carrier of Laos, operating flight services to ten domestic destinations and international services to Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Its headquarters is Vientiane's Wattay International Airport.

6,226 Posts
Phongsavanh Airlines to buy three aircraft

Phongsavanh Airlines Public Company is planning to buy three jet aircraft from the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corporation of Russia.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase in Vientiane on Wednesday.

“We cannot reveal the purchase cost now because it depends on the accommodations or facilities of the aircraft to be built,” said Phongsavanh Airlines Public Company General Director, Mr Artem Vartanian.

“We are preparing a feasibility study now.”

The company will receive the three aircraft by early 2012. It will take the manufacturer over a year to assemble them, with each having 98 seats.

Currently Phongsavanh Airlines provides flights on a 19-seat aircraft, which travels between Vientiane and the provinces of Xayaboury, Huaphan and Phongsaly.

Service began about a month after the Phongsavanh Group Company took control of the Lao Capricorn Air Company in January.

“We will provide flights to international destinations once we have the new aircraft,” Mr Vartanian said.

It is expected flights will be scheduled to destinations in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the region.

The Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corporation is a world aircraft producer and has been manufacturing aircraft for over 75 years. Phongsavanh Group plans to buy a further three aircraft from the corporation to add new routes for future trade, tourism and investment purposes.

The group hopes to take advantage of the growth in these sectors in Laos and aims to raise air transport in Laos to an international standard.

Lao Airlines will also buy two ARJ21-700 jet aircraft from the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd, after signing a purchase agreement in January. The purchase o f jet aircraft is an important step for Lao Airlines and its growth. At present the airline owns only propeller aircraft. It will receive the two new aircraft by the end of 2012.

It agreed to the purchase after experiencing increased demand for charter flights by tourists and government officials. The two airlines placed the orders in light of concerns about the adequacy of domestic and international air transport. The new aircraft will drive the development of the air transport market and tourism.

Lao Airlines is the national flag carrier of Laos, formerly known as Lao Aviation. It has eight aircraft - four MA60, two ATR72-200, and two new TR72-500 bought from France last year. They fly to four international and seven domestic locations.

It offers flights to and from Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces. International destinations are Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Phongsavanh Group is a multi-sector conglomerate with enterprises in international trading, timber, hospitality, telecommunications, banking, airlines and security products and services, according to the group's website.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update May 21, 2010)

Senior and Head Filipino Mod
19,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (NNN-BERNAMA) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will make a two-day official visit to Laos from June 2, his first to the republic since becoming the prime minister in April last year.

The prime minister will be accompanied by his wife, Rosmah Mansor, as well as several Cabinet ministers, government officials and a business delegation, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Sunday.

The visit emphasises the importance which Malaysia attaches to its relationship with Laos, said the statement, which added that it also illustrated Malaysia's commitment to actively engage Laos in dialogue and discussion to broaden and deepen the existing bilateral co-operation and pave the way to explore other potential areas for future co-operation.

High on the prime minister's programme will be a bilateral meeting with Laos Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, which will take place on Wednesday in Vientiane.

The meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for them to exchange views and achieve closer understanding on issues of mutual interests, the statement said.

Both leaders will then witness the signing of several agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between Malaysia and Laos.

Najib is also scheduled to call on Laos President Choummaly Sayasone and to address the business community from both countries during a business forum-cum-luncheon.

The prime minister will return home on Friday.

6,226 Posts
ADB funds northern GMS transport network upgrade

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a supplementary grant of more than 220 billion kip (US$27 million) to the Lao government to upgrade road transport and help the rural poor.

Under the project, it is expected people in rural areas will gain better access to markets, jobs and services in the country and the region.

Ms Viengthong Siphandone ( right ) shakes hands with Mr Barend Frielink after the signing ceremony.

The agreement for the supplementary grant was signed in Vientiane last week between Deputy Minister of Finance Ms Viengthong Siphandone and ADB's Laos Resident Mission Office in Charge Mr Barend Frielink, in the presence of government officials from related line ministries.

The supplementary grant agreement will provide financing for the Northern Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Transport Network Improvement project, which is under implementation.

The additional funding has been provided because of increases in the cost of construction materials, and to allow for increased vehicle axle loads, to comply with international standards in the GMS.

The grant allows vehicle axle loads on national highway Route 4, linking the northern province of Luang Prabang to the Laos-Thailand border via the provincial capital of Xayaboury, to increase to 11 tonnes from 9.3 tonnes, to meet the standards of other GMS transport corridors.

In addition, an 83 kilometre section of the road will be widened.

The Northern GMS Transport Network Improvement project is one of several priority projects relating to infrastructure development to integrate Laos with other GMS countries, said Ms Viengthong.

The project was initiated in 2008 with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport as the executing agency, and aims to facilitate transportation, trading and tourism. It will greatly benefit economic development in the GMS, as well as in the north of Laos.

But the project was affected by the global financial crisis, resulting in an increase in construction equipment and material prices as well as fuel prices, Ms Viengthong explained.

“We are aware of the importance of the project, which will contribute to the development of transportation and communication among provinces in Laos and other cities in neighbouring countries, in order to boost social and economic development,” she said.

Mr Frielink said “Improving routes that connect provinces in Laos will enhance sub-regional connections and contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction.”

Poor basic infrastructure is a major impediment to sub-regional economic cooperation. Laos is pivotal to the GMS transport corridors linking northern Thailand, northern Vietnam and the southern provinces of the People's Republic of China.

Improvement of this road under the supplementary grant will facilitate more standardised and efficient transport on the regional and national road networks, lead to increased exports to Thailand of agricultural goods produced in the project area, promote tourism from Thailand to Luang Prabang, and will enhance sub-regional connectivity between northern Laos and neighbouring countries.

6,226 Posts
Laos revamps investment landscape to lift GDP by 8%
Published: 31/05/2010 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

TOKYO : The Lao government is planning on upgrading its investment climate so that it can reach annual economic growth of more than 8% over the next five years, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh says.

"From 2011-15 there are plans by our government to achieve economic growth targets of about 8% or more while at the same time maintaining our stability," Mr Bouasone said at the 'Future of Asia' business conference in Tokyo.

Laos offers lots of potential for entrepreneurs looking to tap the various sectors the government is promoting.

Mr Bouasone said that despite the past year's global economic upheaval and the political problems in neighbouring Thailand, the country's gross domestic product grew by 7.6% in 2009.

"There are no doubts therefore that we can achieve the targets we have set out," he said.

The global economic crisis had not destroyed Asian economies, on the contrary the region has now managed to manoeuvre itself into a key position on the world markets.

The region's rising global standing also means that trade and investments between Asian countries are likely to continue to rise. Countries such as Laos need to tap these opportunities as much as possible and Vientiane was looking to make legal amendments so it can devise better incentives to attract foreign investors, he said.

"We will upgrade the country's investment incentives to make it more attractive in every way possible. Be it in taxes, litigation issues or the approval process," he said.

Laos will soon present its investment policies in detail and show that they are transparent.

The government will promote investment in agriculture, electricity generation, alternative energy, hotels and tourism, logistics and services.

Growth in the country's economic activities has been the main draw for foreign direct investment in Laos which has surged over the past few years thanks to the country's stability, he said.

Mr Bouasone said Laos is a country with an abundance of farmland and forestry and his aim was to promote this sector's exports.

"We are going to develop this area with value-added products such as organic food," he said. "We would make [forestry development] a reality. We want 65% of the country to be forested by 2015."

Developing human resources is key to meeting the country's economic targets and to see it leave the realm of the world's least developed nations over the next couple of years.

Another aim of Mr Bouasone is to try to make Laos a "land-linked" country rather than a land-locked one. To achieve this the government will promote greater investment in infrastructure and other developments that will help increase its connectivity with China and Thailand.

"The 2011-15 plan aims to achieve many things, we want to grow by 8% each year while maintaining our stability, we want to develop human resources to cope with this growth and, at the same time, care for and nurture our precious asset - the environment," he said.

Laos would welcome larger-scale investments from China, Japan, Thailand and other countries, he said.

"We would welcome large scale businesses to give us stability such as hydro power and construction of infrastructure, aside from the development of various trade zones," he said.

The government is also eyeing other foreign investment projects, such as the development of:

- airports;

- logistics systems to facilitate the transfer of goods and services, and

- local economies in each part of the country.

"All this would help us reach the goal of being a 'land-linked' country," he said.

Thailand is a major investor in Laos, but the kingdom's political turmoil was having a major effect on its investment.

Laos is a mostly rural nation of about 6 million and is among one of Asia's poorest countries. Thailand is crucial for Laos as it generates much of its foreign exchange through investments in hydro projects, mining and tourism.

"Political instability in Thailand is of great concern to us, especially because we share borders with Thailand," Mr Bouasone said. "Because the Lao PDR uses ports in Thailand to export and import we are directly affected [by the unrest]," he said

6,226 Posts
Savannakhet old town to get facelift

Savannakhet provincial authorities will inject 30 billion kip to restore the town's old quarter, aiming to bring in tourists travelling through the province between Thailand and Vietnam.

Deputy provincial Governor Dr Souphanh Keomixay said the majority of this funding will be used for infrastructure development, including roads, parks and a river embankment.

“We will open a night market in June and the second Lao-ITECC will open here at the end of this year,” he said, adding these developments would attract more visitors to Savannakhet.

“We aim to not only be a transit province. We will do our best to offer facilities to tourists passing through, especially those using the east-west economic corridor.”

Dr Souphanh said the restoration of Savannakhet's old town would mimic the work done in Luang Prabang, where hotels, restaurants and business units now operate from finely restored Lao-French buildings of the colonial era that fell into disrepair in the recent past.

More than 100 Lao-French houses have been registered for preservation in Savannakhet, and businesspeople will be encouraged to invest in the old town after road resurfacing in the area is complete.

Dr Souphanh said Savannakhet started this process with poor infrastructure and limited funding, which was always going to be a challenge.

The province attaches great importance to tourism development to generate income for poverty reduction of villagers, and is starting by paving roads to all tourism sites, which will take the next five years to complete.

The authorities have also installed signs so tourists can get to tourism sites independently by motorbike or tuk-tuk. Savannakhet is easily accessible to regional tourists after the completion of the second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in 2006, and visitor numbers have increased five-fold from 100,000 in 2005 to 589,000 in 2009.

The majority of tourists are from Thailand and Vietnam, but tourism officials believe the planned development project will encourage more tourists from western countries to experience the natural, cultural and historic sites of Savannakhet province.

There are 104 tourism sites listed in Savannakhet, but only half have the necessary infrastructure to enable tourists to visit them, according to the Savannakhet Tourism Department.

Most western visitors to Laos only see Savannakhet out of a bus window on their way north or south, but more tourists are interested in exploring the area. Officials are confident that more facilities and some restoration will help the provincial capital establish itself as a destination in its own right.

Dr Souphanh said the province had allocated one-third of its budget to develop the tourism sector but he was still not satisfied with the achievements made over the past five years.

According to statistics, tourists currently stay in the province for an average of two days and one night.

The deputy governor said his staff would produce more tourism programmes and organise cultural events to encourage visitors to stay longer, and better understand another centre for Lao culture

6,226 Posts
(KPL) The Vientiane Mekong River Embankment Repair and Park Development Project has been completed by 63 per cent, said Vice Mayor of Vientiane Capital, Mr. Bounchanh Sinlavong.

Mr. Bounchanh inspected the construction site of the project last Friday to evaluate its progress. The project is among the 21 projects for the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation as the national capital, scheduled for November.

It is a mega project of the government of Laos and financed with a loan of US$37 million from the Republic of Korea government, reported the Project Manager of the Vientiane Mekong River Embankment Repair and Park Development, Mr. Bounchanh Keosithammavong, to the visitors.

The project is being implemented by a Korean company Hhi Hgung Hwa. The construction began in 2009 and is expected to be fully completed in 2013.

The Vientiane Mekong River Embankment Repair and Park Development Project is divided into two phases. Its first phase has been completed by more than 60 per cent. However the developer said that the first phase would have been completed before the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation.

The embankment stretches four kilometres from the Pakpasak Technical College to Thaphalansay village.

Once the development project is over, the riverside area will become a relaxation and tourist spot for Vientiane residents and visitors

6,226 Posts
Laos: Lao economy growing almost as fast as China's

Economy grew by 6.4 per cent last year, exporting minerals to China, clothing to Europe, and energy to Thailand. Tourism is also developing. However, poverty remains widespread.
Thursday, January 28, 2010By Asia News

Vientiane – The Lao economy grew last year despite the global financial crisis at a rate of 6.4 per cent, the second highest in East Asia after China, this according to a World Bank report.
The report noted that one of the main reasons for this impressive growth is the Lao economy’s relative insulation from the global financial system and its low exposure to global trade.

Still, a sustained demand for Lao exports, including copper and gold bought by China, garment products by Europe and electricity by Thailand, combined with its strong tourism industry, which was boosted by higher public expenditures on domestic infrastructure for the 25th South-East Asian Games in Vientiane in December 2009, also helped cushion the country’s economy compared to other nations.

The mining sector alone, in particular copper and gold, contributed about 2.5 percentage points to growth in 2009, while manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors each contributed 1 point to the growth.

However, not all is rosy. Economists warn the country has a number of challenges to meet to ensure growth is sustainable.

Metals processing industries and hydroelectric power plants led the impressive growth of the Lao economy; however, this is not sustainable in the long-term due to the unavoidable depletion of natural resources.

Experts are urging the government to shift the base of economic growth toward agricultural processing industries and services, including tourism.

Development of human resources and improvements to the investment mechanism to facilitate business operations should top the government’s agenda.

In fact Laos is still one of the region’s poorest countries with an estimated 27 per cent of the population living with less than $US 1 a day and 74.1% living on less than US$ 2 a day. Illiteracy remains widespread.

6,226 Posts
Several tourism operators in Laos are facing potential crisis as global and regional factors continue to hamper visitor numbers to the country.

Tourism sector battling through major downturn

Recent violence and political turmoil in Thailand, along with European flight chaos caused by an erupting Icelandic volcano, and unstable global economic markets have all meant that tourist numbers in Laos are below average during what is already the traditional low season.

A short walk around the renowned tourist hub of Vangvieng district in Vientiane province tells much of the story.

According to statistics from the local tourist office, more than 300 foreigners visited the town in May last year. But that number has dropped this year since the Lao new year holiday in mid-April.

Local restaurants, guest-houses, and tubing and kayaking operators have all been affected by the downturn, with many now struggling to make ends meet.

Only about three local visitors have been recorded as going kayaking each day this month, said Head of the provincial Tourist Office, Mr Phouvieng Sykoson.

“We have met with tourism operators to explain the extent of the situation and encourage them to tough it out. But we have told them not to sit still, but rather to take the downtime to create various new attractions,” he said.

But it is not just small businesses that are feeling the pinch.

Director of Lao Airlines’ Administration and Planning Department, Mr Noudang Chanthasouk, said the political situation in Thailand has had a major impact on flight operations.

“The number of passengers from Bangkok to Luang Prabang is currently considered very low. We operate 70 seat aircraft, but we are sometimes only filling them with 12 passengers. Moreover, we have been forced to cancel several flights due to lack of demand.”

That lack of demand is also reflected in tourism numbers in the World Heritage listed town of Luang Prabang, which has prompted many local businesses and guesthouses to lower their prices dramatically in a bid to attract visitors and sustain their business.

But Head of the Luang Prabang provincial Tourism Department, Mr Khamphoui Phommavong, urged operators not to engage in that kind of negative competition, which he said will simply reduce local incomes.

He said the department was meeting with travel agencies to discuss the issue.

“What we can do is to evaluate each tourist attraction to ensure they are still attractive, especially ecotourism sites, in preparation for the next high season,” Mr Khamphoui said.

According to the department’s statistics, around 18,000 foreigners visited this month, a decline of almost 1,000 tourists compared to the same period last year.

The number of foreign visitors to the province has been on the decline recently, even during the ever popular Lao New Year celebrations.

Mr Khamphoui emphasised that it was up to the province and the Lao National Tourism Administration to come up with a strategy to attract more visitors.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Phonesavanh Sangsomboun
June 01, 2010

6,226 Posts
Luang Prabang airport upgrade takes off

A project to expand Luang Prabang International Airport broke ground on Saturday with the government aiming to provide better facilities and build confidence among international airlines.

The improvements are in response to the growing number of tourists visiting Laos’s second city to experience the many attractions of the World Heritage town.

The government of China is providing a low-interest loan to build the airport.

The airport expansion will cost more than US$86 million and will take 52 months to complete. The project will be operated by China CAMCE, a Chinese construction company.

A ceremony to mark the start of construction was held at the airport and attended by Luang Prabang provincial Governor Bounheuang Duangphachan, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Sithong Thongkeo and other high-ranking officials.

Deputy Director General of the ministry’s Civil Aviation Department, Mr Vanpheng Chanthaphone, said the upgraded airport will be able to accommodate bigger aircraft, especially Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s, in response to national development needs.

A new runway, made of concrete and measuring 2,900m by 45m, will be built as part of the project. New taxiways and a new passenger terminal, covering an area of 9,800 square metres, will also be built.

The existing airport can only accommodate 72- and 60-seater ATR aircraft and the runway is only 2,200m in length.

Officials say safety standards and commercial activities will improve following the completion of the project.

There are currently flights between Luang Prabang and neighbouring countries including Thailand and Vietnam.

The number of foreign tourists to the province reached around 245,000 people in 2009, a 5.38 percent increase from the year before.

Officials believe more tourists will travel to Laos by air once the airport expansion is complete.

Source: Vientiane Times
June 01, 2010

6,226 Posts
Debate over hydropower vs. tourism heats up

The building of a planned hydropower plant near Khone Phapheng waterfall in southern Laos is being hotly debated by developers and local tourism officials, with the government expressing concern the plant will have a negative impact on tourism.

One of the largest waterfalls in Asia, the Khone Phapheng is located on the Mekong River in Khong district, Champassak province, and is a perennial tourist draw.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines kicked off a consultation workshop yesterday, aiming to allow developers of the Thakho hydropower project and tourism officials to discuss the possibility of developing both the power plant and local tourism.

Vice President of the Lao National Tourism Administration, Mr Vang Rattanvong, and a number of tourism and senior government officials attended the workshop.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Somboun Rasasombath said the government wanted to build the plant to generate more power for the southern provinces, which need wider access to electricity to drive economic development.

But the government also wants to develop Khone Phapheng waterfall and the surrounding area as one of the top tourist destinations in Laos, he said, with the aim of creating local jobs and income to reduce poverty.

“The discussion today is about whether it is possible to shoot two birds with one bullet,” said Mr Somboun.

The developers of the Thakho Hydropower Project are Electricite du Laos, one of the largest state owned enterprises in Laos, and the French company CNR (Companie du Rhone).

The two companies signed an agreement to form a partnership for the Thakho hydropower project in September 2008 after gaining support from Champassak authorities to conduct a feasibility study and subsequently develop the project.

The partners then signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lao government at the end of 2009, obtaining legal backing to spend 18 months conducting the feasibility study and assessing the environmental impacts of the project in Khong district.

The feasibility and environmental impact study is now 50 percent complete after reporting the results of earlier studies to Champassak authorities, which suggested it was possible to develop both hydropower and tourism in the area surrounding the waterfall.

The study shows there are many examples around the world of hydropower plants providing better tourism opportunities due to improved infrastructure, energy access and accommodation.

Khone Phapheng waterfall and its surrounds are a top tourist draw, attracting local and overseas tourists every year.

The large drop over the length of the waterfall also holds considerable potential for energy generation. The planned powerhouse would have a capacity of 50MW.

Laos could generate a total of about 26,500MW from hydropower sources, excluding the mainstream Mekong River, of which about 18,000MW is technically exploitable.

Laos has 10 hydropower plants in operation and another 17 plants in the planning stage, while 45 more are undergoing feasibility studies.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
June 01, 2010
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