Laos named World's Best Tourist Destination for 2013
There was a great sense of pride across the country after the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) presented Laos with the council's award for ‘World's Best Tourist Destination for 2013' in Vientiane yesterday.
The award demonstrates the great achievements Laos has made in terms of tourism development and all it has to offer in terms of its rich history, culture, traditions and natural beauty.
The award was presented to Laos by ECTT Chairman Professor Dr Anton Caragea and received on behalf of the government by Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Professor Dr Bosengkham Vongdara.
The ceremony was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Mr Asang Laoly, who is in charge of social and cultural affairs, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith, ministers, deputy ministers, governors, businesspeople, members of the diplomatic corps and officials from information, culture and tourism sectors nationwide.
Prof. Dr Caragea delivered a speech, reflecting on the riches Laos has to offer. “Today, Laos has become a cultural and touristic world power and the main credit belongs, without a doubt, to the great people of Laos, who from 1975 onwards have created a life of dignity, liberty and tolerance in a free country,” he said.
“Today, in a world that rarely accepts and tolerates difference, we come to honour a country of tolerance, in a world crowded with pseudo-culture, without form and substance, we come today to honour a true culture in a world that is losing the true values, we come today to honour real touristic value, in a time in which too many speak but do not act for the preservation of historical sites; we come to honour a paradise of history, we come to honour the People's Democratic Republic of Laos.”
Prof. Dr Anton told the gathering the award aims to show the council's support for the values of humanity, of education and of culturally sensitive tourism.
“We are all here in the search for a country that offers tourists a complete experience, a country that educates spirit, elevates soul and gives everybody a lesson in history and culture.”
“We all have found in Laos the perfect teacher in tourism, offering all the tourists of the world the possibility of a safe, pleasurable and enlightening tourist experience,” he said.
Among the reasons the council chose Laos for this year's award were the government's promotion of free and fair tourism, the safety of tourists, the facilities offered, access to sites of historical and cultural significance, investment in the preservation of historical sites, and the benefits of tourism to grassroots communities.
Prof. Dr Bosengkham also delivered a speech at the ceremony, saying that with great effort and a high sense of responsibility, the Party and government has since 1986 outlined a comprehensive renovation policy to open up to the world.
In this regard, the travel and tourism industry has played an ever more prominent role in the socio-economic development of the country, he noted. “The government has defined policy and taken action to develop and promote our natural cultural and historical heritage.”
“To facilitate the growth of tourism and services, the government has done its utmost to develop infrastructure such as building roads to link all regions across the country as well as connecting with neighbouring countries,” Prof. Dr Bosengkham said.
“Over the past four or five years, the government has worked intensively to increase the number of border checkpoints and integrate with countries in the region and the world at large. ”
Over the past years, Laos has been awarded many honourable and impressive prizes. In 2008, the New York Times named Laos as one of 53 countries it described as the world's top tourist destinations.
The world heritage site of Luang Prabang received the Top City Gold Award after being voted the world's top tourist destination by Wanderlust, a UK based travel magazine from 2006 to 2008, and again from 2010 to 2012.
The Community-based Eco-tourism Programme in the Nam Ha Protected Forest Area in Luang Namtha province also won an award for ‘best poverty alleviation project' and ‘best services', bestowed by the United Nations Development Programme, a respected authority on the subject.
During the award ceremony, a video presentation showed the highlights of Laos' tourist attractions before a cultural show was performed.