SEVERAL NATURAL sites in Laos’ Oudomxay province are attracting the interest of foreign investors keen to develop new attractions to draw more domestic and overseas visitors, according to a provincial official.
Bounkuam Mithmeuangxay, deputy director of the province’s Information, Culture and Tourist Department, said local authorities were planning several tourism development projects for this year.
They hope to source financing from the government and private sectors.
The planned projects would not only boost tourism but would provide more job opportunities for local communities and include them in tourism development plans, Bounkuam said.
One of the main targets of the plans is Chom Ong Cave in Xay district. It is hoped that by drawing more visitors, neighbouring communities will earn extra income by selling local products. They will also be able to sell their crops to nearby restaurants and hotels.
Chom Ong Cave is 16 kilometres long, 15 to 50 metres wide and 25 to 100 metres high. It is 44km from the provincial capital.
The cost of upgrading the site is estimated at US$14 million (Bt495 million), which has been approved by the Asian Development Bank. The project is scheduled to be launched next month, with a focus on improving road and visitor facilities.
Bounkuam said authorities also planned to improve tourism services, car parking, guest houses and other facilities at Singkham Buddha temple, a popular tourist site in La district, 28km from the provincial capital. The upgrade will take place in the near future, at a cost of more than 1 billion kip (Bt4.3 million). Authorities also plan to upgrade a 17km road leading from the provincial capital to the Nam Kat Yorlapa Resort, located in a protected forestry area by the Nam Kat River. The resort is proving very popular and has attracted around 10,000 people since it opened in April last year.
Activities in the area encourage responsible travel, and promote education and awareness of the Nam Kat Yorlapa environment and heritage to help finance future conservation and improve the well-being of local people and the environment.
Bounkuam said there were more than 100 natural and cultural attractions in the province, which have been developed to varying degrees.
Most visitors are interested in seeing people of different ethnic groups and trekking through forests, he said.