Vientiane Times/Asia News Network / 03:00 PM June 21, 2016
The Lao government has attached great importance on ecotourism development as a way to protect the country’s natural and cultural resources while bringing economic benefits to local communities.
Laos is entrusted to host the Asean Ecotourism Forum in Pakxe, Champassak province from June 22 to 25 to discuss regional cooperation regarding sustainable tourism development.
Held under the theme: “Asean Without Borders: A Roadmap for Strategic Development of Ecotourism Clusters and Tourism Corridors,” the forum will discuss and adopt a Pakxe declaration aiming to align the region’s ecotourism destinations.
The declaration will call for an Asean coordinated roadmap for both public and private sectors to pool resources and unlock economic opportunities along designated tourism corridors.
Over 300 delegates from Asean nations are expected to attend the forum where a tourism trade fair featuring 200 booths scheduled to take place during the event. Apart from Asean nations, China, Japan and South Korea will also be exhibiting at the tourism fair.
Quoting a 2015 World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report, Xinhua said the forum was initiated as ecotourism operators sought to increase their share of leisure travel spending in Southeast Asia which generated a total of US$158 billion in 2014 and was projected to rise to some US$285.5 billion by 2025.
A tourism official in charge of the event Somxay Sitpaseuth told Vientiane Times yesterday that “We are now ready to host the forum which should contribute to enhancing tourism cooperation in the region.”
Ecotourism aims to assist environmental protection, the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources and the delivery of measurable socio-economic benefits to local communities.
Ecotourism activities in Laos include trekking through conservation areas and communities to experience nature and the culture of local people.
Activities also include ziplining, homestays and others that contribute to raising awareness for communities to protect the natural and cultural heritage.
Laos has a population of 6.5 million people but the country is full of unspoiled, diverse ethnic lifestyles and traditions and perhaps the most extensive network of ecosystems on the Indochina Peninsula.
In place to protect and conserve these irreplaceable resources is a network of 20 National Protected Areas, often cited as one of the best designed Protected Area Systems in the world.
In 2015, the number of foreign visitors to Laos reached 4.6 million, representing an annual increase of 13 percent, compared to the previous year.