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Vangvieng Considering New Party Precinct, Safety Permitting

Authorities in Vangvieng district of Vientiane province are now considering the establishment of a specially zoned area for entertainment venues and late night trading, according to district officials.

“We are now working on the outline of a plan for zoning a specific entertainment venue precinct where visitors can enjoy food, drinks and partying 24 hours a day,” Vanvieng Tourism Office Head Mr Bounpanh Phommavong told Vientiane Times yesterday.

Mr Bounpanh explained that the aim of the entertainment zone is to increase tourism revenues while maintaining the amenity of the town centre itself. The idea is to create a new precinct where tourists can enjoy themselves late into the night safely and without disturbing residents.

“We are now drafting a plan before it is proposed to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism later on,” he said, saying that the Western side of the Xong River is being targeted.

Long-tail boat riding is one of the remaining recreational activities since the authorities decided to shut down clubs, bars and flying foxes along the Xong River two years ago.

The idea for zoning a specific entertainment area comes after the district authorities decided they want to promote a lively tourism environment in an area once well known for its nightlife and partying.

Mr Bounpanh informed the newspaper that currently seven to eight restaurants are now offering regular services for customers in the Tham Lom Cave area after they were shut down a few years ago. “They are under close inspection by the authorities to ensure they strictly follow the regulations,” he said.

Reporters from Vientiane Times recently visited Vangvieng to experience and observe the tourism atmosphere and talked to local owners of hotels, guesthouses and home stays.

Some owners were a little downcast about business and said that the number of tourists has declined significantly if compared to the past few years.

They said the downturn was the result of a number of activities being shut down, particularly those attractive to young backpackers. Business is also slower for local vendors who were not catering directly to the party crowd.

“A few years ago a large number of clients were queuing to buy drinks and food in my shop but nowadays there are just a few people,” said the owner of a local grocery shop named Ms Kham. She added that she could accept the effect of several activities being shut down because she wanted every visitor to Vangvieng to be safe.

“Nevertheless tourism and trade are relatively linked because if we have more visitors we can sell more goods,” she said, adding that the authorities should reopen activities but with a greater focus on safety than there was before.

According to the observations of visiting reporters, the tourism environment is still lively as a number of tourists can still be found at various tourism sites, restaurants and bars.

However the majority of visitors are currently Asian travellers from the Republic of Korea, China and Thailand. Some 121,000 visitors came to Vangvieng this year, up slightly on last year’s figure of 117,000 people, according to Mr Bounpanh.

Asian tourists now make up 50 percent of visitor arrivals while 40 percent are from Europe and 10 percent from other countries, including North America, Australia and other continents.

“Currently we are also reconsidering previous activities that have been shut down over the past years and outlining new regulations for the possible reopening of some of those activities,” Mr Bounpanh said.

Source: Vientiane Times