An extensive renovation project set to begin shortly along the Xong River in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, hopes to promote tourism after its image was marred by a few fatal accidents.
These events led government and district officials to appoint a taskforce committee to address the issue. As a result, 24 bars and entertainment venues operating along the riverbank were closed down.
Deputy Director of the Information, Culture and Tourism Department in Vientiane province, Mr Boualy Milattanaphen, told the Vientiane Times yesterday that the new walkway, which will be seven metres wide, will allow people to take full advantage of the stunning scenery along the river and through the hills of the well-known tourist district.
Structures within seven metres of the edge of the Xong River will be removed to make way for a walkway.
“We want to build the walkway so that tourists and the general public can enjoy the river either on foot or by bicycle.”
He added that although no major structures would be affected, parts of nine buildings – including houses, hotels and guesthouses – which currently extend onto the riverbank will be removed to make way for the promenade.
Some of the land on which these structures stand is state-owned, so the occupiers will be required to hand it back to the government. “Fences, balconies and other facilities which currently block the riverbank will be removed,” Mr Boualy said.
The river boasts some beautiful scenery and has been a popular place for tourists to enjoy tubing and other water sports for many years.
The recent tragedies are thought to have happened as a result of tourists engaging in drug and alcohol consumption whilst tubing and using the fly fox swings suspended above the river. After several people were hospitalised, reports surfaced that entertainment venues were serving dangerous beverages, such as drinks mixed with hallucinogenic mushrooms. In addition, faults with the flying fox swings resulted in one fatality.
Officials hope that, with the announcement of this new project following the conclusion of the taskforce committee’s mission, enjoyment of the area can continue for many more years. “The issues have now been addressed and precautionary measures have been introduced to prevent simi lar problems occurring in the future,” Mr Boualy added.
In addition, authorities at the district and village level have been appointed to keep a close eye on certain groups suspected of having involvement in drug dealing and use, to prevent them from operating in the area.
Now that the committee has succeeded in putting these measures in place, district authorities will take over the management and regulation of these issues, and provincial and central authorities will carry out regular inspections of the area.
published with the permission of Vientiane Times