Joint tourism plan with Laos agreed

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THAILAND and Laos will work together on a tourism campaign dubbed “Two Countries, One Destination” aimed at boosting arrivals on both sides of the border. Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said she had met officials from Laos’ Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and Lao tourism operators to discuss ways to promote tourism under the joint campaign.

“We also proposed the plan to Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and received a positive response from the Lao government and the private sector,” Kobkarn said after meeting Thongloun late on Wednesday.

Under the “Two Countries, One Destination”, Thai and Lao tourism organisations will join with public and private firms to promote tourist destinations, starting with locations near the four bridges linking the countries. These bridges serve the border links of Nong Khai-Vientiane, Mukdahan -Savannakhet, Nakhon Phanom-Tha Khaek and Chiang Rai-Houay Xai.

Thailand plans to build to more bridges for additional border routes, from Bung Kan to Paksan and Ubon Ratchathani to Saravane.Thailand’s Tourism Ministry also plans to start Mekong River cruises for tourists visiting the northeast of Thailand and Laos.

“Laos’ prime minister agreed with the idea to develop both countries’ tourism sectors and this initiative will form part of the five-year master plan for bilateral trade and investment to be boosted to US$10 billion (Bt344 billion),” she said, referring to a plan announced in Vientiane on Wednesday.

Under the tourism strategy, Kobkarn expects the number of tourists to Thailand’s northeast and Laos will increase, especially among those visiting from outside Asean.

Last year, the number of foreign tourists from outside Asean who visited the Northeast, also known as Isaan, accounted for only 3 per cent of the 32.58 million total for Thailand.

Kobkarn said she expects tourist inflows into Isaan to increase to 20 per cent of the total in five years after the launch of the joint campaign, and these visitors will also take in Laos. The ranks of Thai tourists from outside the Northeast to visit Isaan and Laos will also rise under the marketing efforts, she said.

Last year, Thailand was the leading source of visitors to Laos, at two million. Thailand’s Tourism Ministry also plans to develop Khong River cruises for tourists visiting both the northeast of Thailand and Laos.

Source: The Nation

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