Trade sceptical about Borikhamxay cultural site in central Laos

LAOS is planning to build a cultural tourism site in Borikhamxay province, central Laos within the next two years, but tour operators are less than enthused about the new development.

According to the Vientiane Times, a 13,487m2 memorial park for revolutionary leader Sisomphone Lorvanxay will be built at a cost of more than US$2.2 million. The development will include open play areas, a memorial plinth, artificial cave, waterfall, museum, library and an administration building among other facilities.

Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily, Laurent Granier, general manager of Laos Mood Travel, commented: “Its geographical locations means visitors cross overland to reach the next province of Khammouane and Kong Lor Cave. But this is an expensive option, especially for FITs.

“Central provinces of Laos are tough to sell with European tour operators. They imply long (and rather costly) trips with little choice of international standard accommodation,” he added.

Destination Asia’s group product director, Niels Steeman, said: “I do not believe that this project will boost tourism from the (Western) markets we deal with. The area is little known as a tourism area outside of the backpackers and adventure tourism sector. The infrastructure, including international hotels, just is not there yet.”

However, Natalia Kortchouganova, regional operation director of Asia World Travel, which has offices across Asia, said: “I would question whether a ‘culture park’ would capture the attention of Western tourists. Within Asian travellers though, including Thailand, Vietnam and China, the idea of such a park keeps within their interests.”

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