The organisers of the Xayaboury Elephant Festival hope for this year to be the best ever in terms of festival takings, with a record number of tourists expected to arrive next month.
They say they are expecting to earn at least 40 billion from the festival, which will be held in Xayaboury capital from February 17 to 19, up from 28 billion kip the previous year.
Since 2007, the Elephant Festival has become increasingly popular among locals and foreigners alike, who come to see the giant creatures take part in Buddhist and traditional ceremonies and take part in activities which promote elephant conservation.
Last year more 100,000 visitors attended the event and the organisers are confident that with a more convenient and accessible location at the heart of the town, visitor numbers can only increase.
Deputy Head of the Information, Culture and Tourism Department Mr Sangvien Saengchanaly said with the popularity of the festival, hotels and guesthouses are booked out every year.
“There are not enough guesthouses and hotels to serve tourists on the main day of the event. This year will be the same, therefore we have our team in charge of home stays around the town to ensure we can cope with the crowds,” he said. House owners will charge 30,000 kip per person and meals will be negotiable .
Apart from providing accommodation in the central town, the organisers have also encouraged locals to prepare accommodation in the nearby districts of Phiang in Xayaboury and Nan in Luang Prabang province, which is about 30 minutes drive to the event.
Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Saly Phimphinith, said the festival greatly benefits the tourism sector, as well as the elephants, both directly and indirectly.
“Local villagers receive income directly from festival goers, while more income goes to the elephant camps, which have increased every year,” he said.
Similar festivals take place in other countries as well, but the Elephant Festival in Laos is regarded as one of the most unique given that the country used to be the land of the million elephants, Mr Saly said.
He added that he appreciates all the hard work of the involved sectors since the festival started in 2007, especially ElefantAsia that puts a lot of effort into saving and caring for elephants in Laos.
Source: Vientiane Times