Source: Vientiane Times
The government is preparing to reopen Laos to visitors, with plans to initially resume tourism activities in selected areas of the country.
The matter was discussed on Wednesday at a meeting of the committee in charge of kickstarting tourism, when participants heard and discussed reports on the progress made by public and private bodies to prepare for the return of visitors.
The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Prof. Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, who is also the chairman of the committee.
The committee will spell out regulations to ensure efficient management of the return of visitors, including the steps to be taken to build trust among tourists, as well as security measures, which are seen as key to attracting visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof. Dr Kikeo said “In order to reopen Laos to visitors, close consideration must be given to the actual situation on the ground. We will first consider provinces that have the potential to accept visitors and have been designated as green tourism areas.”
However, these areas – namely Vientiane, Luang Prabang province, Vientiane province (Vangvieng) and Champassak province – are all reporting relatively high numbers of Covid cases.
This means it is necessary to look into infection prevention and remedial measures in line with the individual circumstances of each of these areas.
This will mean opening up selected places for tourism operations, with specific hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions to be spelled out in a list, Prof. Dr Kikeo said.
Stakeholders must cooperate with businesses to prepare responsibly and take the lead in providing information for visitors, as well as detailing the procedures for applying for a visa and channels for getting information.
Such measures will build confidence among both Lao and foreign travellers about the safety of travel during the Covid-19 outbreak, he added.
“Although reopening Laos to tourists will be difficult, under the leadership of the government, I believe we must work together to overcome this crisis and achieve our goals. All sectors, both public and private, must have a shared responsibility to ensure that we succeed,” Prof. Dr Kikeo said.
Regulations to ensure the smooth resumption of tourism will require detailed coordination, a unified and resilient plan, readiness to facilitate, a timeline, and zoning, he added.
He called on the relevant authorities to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated against Covid-19, especially tourism service providers working in areas of visitor travel and hospitality.