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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs   1  January 2014  
Lao capital welcomes 1.4 million tourists in 2013

VIENTIANE, Laos - Over 1.4 million tourists visited Lao capital Vientiane in 2013 said the Vientiane Department of Information, Culture and Tourism according to state- run daily Vientiane Times.

For Lao PDR and its population of approximately 7 million people the influx of foreign tourists means big business. Earlier this year Laos was awarded the World's Best Tourist Destination for 2013 by the European Union Council on Tourism and Trade at a ceremony here in the capital.

Tourism is Laos' fastest growing industry and second largest to agriculture. In 2011 Laos received some 2.72 million visitors which rose by a margin of 22.27 percent to 3.33 million visitors country wide in 2012. Despite a rapid increase over recent years there are no signs that the tourism boom will slow down anytime soon.

As the year draws to a close Laos is preparing for a slew of revelers who will bring in the New Year in the country. Head of the Culture and Tourism Office for riverside city Vangvieng, Bounpanh Phommavong told Vientiane Times that he expects tourist numbers to surge by at least 20 percent or 30 percent over the New Year period with hotels reporting that they're fully booked.

Each year people come from across the world to experience the diversity of what Laos has to offer. In early December the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang hosted the Luang Prabang Film Festival as a showcase of the most talked about films in Southeast Asia.

The Lao government is keen to showcase the natural beauty of the country and to develop areas in which tourists can enjoy the best that Laos has to offer. A recent agreement between the Facet Tourism Development Company of Laos and Renda Tourism Co will see the development of the beautiful Nam Kat waterfall area in Oudomxay province as a nature tourism destination.

Tourists who visit the waterfall will be able to meet with people from various ethnic groups and enjoy the scenery and biodiversity of the region. Many activities and attractions are to be created such as a nature friendly cradle bridge, zip lining, trekking and elephant riding.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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