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Govt Appoints Committee To Prepare For Return Of Tourists

Source: Vientiane Times

The government last week set up a committee to ready the country for the return of tourists.

Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh authorised a committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Prof. Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, to lead ministries in paving the way for the resumption of tourism.

The committee will formulate procedures to facilitate the return of tourists and their travel within Laos, including immigration regulations and the electronic tracking of visitors following their arrival.

The group will also look at ways to prevent the further spread of the Covid outbreak, consider the budget needed for tourism and ways to collect revenue from tourists, as well as travel and accommodation services across the country.

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The committee will identify suitable tour packages and related services and take steps to ensure the security and safety of both tourists and local communities.

The government will consider arrangements for foreign tourists to enter Laos in stages and formulate a plan to reopen the country to visitors, to be rolled out when the details are finalised.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism has been assigned to coordinate with ministry representatives to implement the plan.

The government has decided to reopen the country to visitors in a bid to revitalise the economy, which has been hard hit by the almost complete absence of tourists during the pandemic.

While allowing tourists to return to Laos, the government will endeavour to ensure that infection control measures are clearly defined and implemented.

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International experts say the pandemic is likely to continue and that more potent variants of the Covid virus could develop. This makes it essential to immunise as many people as possible.

The government hopes to vaccinate as much as 70 percent of the adult population by the end of 2021 — a figure that exceeds the original target of 50 percent.

As of November, more than 3.28 million people had received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, accounting for 44.78 percent of the total, while more than 2.8 million people or 38.38 percent had been fully vaccinated.

In additional attempts to bolster the economy, the government has promised to restructure state-owned enterprises, create a digital economy, boost productivity and exports, and encourage investment in the development of expressways, hotels and tourist attractions.