Lao PDR, also known as Laos, is located in Southeast Asia surrounded by neighbouring Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Although being land-locked, the country is prospered with the valleys of the Mekong River, which supports its main economy of agriculture. Tourism also plays a significant part in the economy of Laos. The country’s rich natural and cultural resources have been the main focus for tourism. In 2004 56 per cent of the 1,417 international visitors surveyed at Wattay International Airport claimed to have been drawn to Laos mainly by its culture, 39 per cent by its temples and monuments, 54 per cent by its natural beauty and 23 per cent by its ethnic minorities (www.culturalprofiles.net). The growth of tourism in Laos has raised awareness of the Lao National Tourism Association (LNTA) to ensure proper management for sustainable tourism through eco-tourism. The LNTA, with the advice of SNV Netherlands Development Organization, devised the National Ecotourism Strategy and Action plan 2004-2010. It is an eco-tourism development framework to support various planning and managing activities such as training, promotions, environmental protection, socio-economic development and cultural heritage protection.
Year |2000 |2001 |2002 |2003 |2004 |2005 |2006 | |No. of Tourist Arrivals (Thousands) |737 |674 |736 |636 |895 |1095 |1215 | |Revenue (US $ Millions) |114 |104 |113 |87 |119 |147 |173 | |Source: Asian Tourism Growth and Change (Cochrane, 2008)
What is Eco-Tourism?
Eco-tourism (in this context) does not refer to the fragment of the industry, but a tourism activity in rural and protected areas that minimises negative impacts and is directed towards the conservation of natural and cultural resources, rural socio-economic development and visitor understanding of, and appreciation for, the places they are visiting. (www.laos-adventures.com)
The Government has considered ecotourism as a means of generating income...