The new brand “Southern Laos, Charming by nature”, has been officially launched to promote the four southern provinces of Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu and Champassak as one tourism destination.
The event took place recently in Champassak province and was attended by high level public and private sector representatives from Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu and Champassak provinces, as well as the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
In his opening speech, Deputy Governor of Champassak Buasone Vongsongkhone said “Like the anniversary of our country, the brand launch event is about our identity, about who we are, about what we stand for.”
He further stressed that, “The brand reminds us about what we need to treasure and what kind of tourism we want to promote such as a sustainable tourism which is respectful to our culture, to our environment and which helps to share economic benefits amongst all members of the society in southern Laos.”
The brand was developed in a participatory process over a period of 10 months, facilitated by Swisscontact and supported by international branding expertise from the marketing agency QUO, based in Bangkok.
When the topic of Laos tourism comes up, the conversation usually focuses on Vientiane or Luang Prabang. So, when faced with the challenge of creating a brand for Southern Laos, the Champasak Tourism Taskforce and Swiss Connect came to Bangkok-based marketing agency QUO for help in communicating their magical region to the world.
Southern Laos, like its northern counterpart, has a wealth of natural, cultural and historic attractions, yet this up-and-coming region is currently lacking when it comes to consumer recognition.
The project kicked off in Pakse with a two-day branding workshop attended by key stakeholders from the region, including tour operators, travel agents, hotel owners and local government authorities.
According to Tim Gamper, country manager of Swisscontact in Laos, the most important element of the branding process for southern Laos was not its output of a logo and a tagline, but the fact that it brought tourism stakeholders together from the public and private sector, across provincial borders and across business interests.
CEO of QUO David Keen underlined that the brand launching event was just the start of a journey which is likely to contribute significantly to the economic success of the four southern provinces of Laos. But he stressed the importance for local stakeholders to take ownership of the brand and to live it in their day-to-day operations.
A big list of media tools was also launched for stakeholders to incorporate with their own material creatively. Part of the media package is a new website (www.southern-laos.com) filled with highlights on things to do or see, as well as an area for tourism trade professionals.
Of the four southern provinces, only Champasak and Attapeu have airports designated for international travel.
There are very few travel itineraries featuring the four provinces other than Champasak that should be linked to destinations in Thailand’s Northeast and Cambodia on an international travel trail.
According to Tourism Development Department, last year Champasak attracted the most tourist arrivals at 535,413 up 8.56% from 493,180 following by Attapeu 153,846 (+35.97% from 113,151), Saravanh 78,534 (+12.96% from 69,524) and Sekong 26,509 (+17.22% from 25,175).