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December 28, 2008

Laos, Vietnam granted $20m to develop tourism link
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently approved funding of over US$ 20 million for the Laos and Vietnam to develop a system of roads that link their tourism industry with Thailand, reported US broadcaster Voice of America on its website.

Each country will receive US$ 10 million.

The link will be established via Route No. 9 and Route No. 12 in Laos’ Savannakhet and Khammouane provinces.

The ADB hopes that the development of this sector will help narrow the gap in tourism administration and management between Laos, Vietnam and Thailand as soon as possible.

ADB officials estimate that the link will increase the number of tourists from these three countries and abroad by 15% annually, and will attract over 2 million tourists passing through Route No. 9 and Route No. 12 of Laos in the next five years.

Lao officials have stressed that the development of this tourism link has always been a top priority of their government’s, emphasizing that it would bring tremendous benefits to the three countries.

“The link will integrate the markets of the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries, allowing them to become one huge market that increasingly attracts domestic and foreign businesses to invest more and develop the tourism sector,” said Bouasone Bouphavanh, Laos’ Prime Minister .

“It will increase the production and earning income opportunities for people in these countries so that they can improve their living standards.”

“Overall, the integration of regional economies resulting from this link is consistent with the trend towards the interconnection of the world economy. And it will stimulate the cultural exchange and learning among the peoples of these countries”,  Bouphavanh added.

Currently, five transnational roads have been constructed, linking the countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

These include Route No. 3, stretching from southern China to northern Thailand via Luang Namtha and Bokeo provinces of Laos, Route No. 7 connecting Xiengkuang province to Vietnam, as well as Route No. 8 connecting Bolikhamxay, in central Laos, to Vietnam.  Route No. 9 links Savannakhet province of Laos to central Vietnam and northeastern Thailand, and Route No. 12, stretching from Khammouane province to central Vietnam.

In addition, six more roads are either under construction or being improved and will be completed in five years.

They are: Routes 1, 4, 6, 11, 16, 18 and Route 13 South. Upon completion, these roads will be linked to Route No. 7 in Xiengteng town in northern Cambodia and, together with the construction of two more bridges spanning Thailand and Laos, will make the link between China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos possible.

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