Lao province banks on draw of elephants

business February 18, 2017 01:00

By VIENTIANE TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
VIENTIANE

XAYABOURY provincial authorities in Laos are discussing the development of the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas on the sidelines of the annual elephant festival, seeking to find a site to conserve elephant populations and attract tourists all year round.



Director of Xayaboury provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Chanthi Simanychan said recently that Xayaboury provincial authorities have held serious discussions about developing the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas as an ecotourism site in Xayaboury district.

“In the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas, it would be possible to conserve a lot of elephants there because, combined, it is a large area and has nice natural views so could easily become a tourist site in the provincial capital of Xayaboury,” Chanthi said.

The provincial Department of Information, Culture and Tourism Department is studying and collecting information on the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas to report to the concerned authorities. The Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas have a cave with stunning views, fresh air and thick trees, making them suitable for an ecotourism site.

According to Chanthi, the aim of developing the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas is to conserve the elephants and develop tourist sites because many elephants have stopped hauling logs in the forests and mahouts don’t have work to do. Xayaboury province is home to the largest population of elephants in Laos. Laos has over 500 elephants and over 400 of those are located in Xayaboury province.

He revealed that Chinese investors are also interested in raising the elephants. Chanthi said the Chinese have indicated that they will invest a large amount of money to conserve about 50 elephants in the area of Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountains. The elephant conservation centre will soon be built at Nahai village.

Also, there will be many other activities for tourists to do and see in the near future. At present, some elephants have already begun to roam in the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas and a number of mahouts have been engaged in work there.

“The provincial authorities set a plan to open the Pha Xang and Pha Kheemin mountain areas to be an ecotourism site next year. Tourists visiting Xayaboury province anytime can ride an elephant after the ecotourism site opens officially,” Chanthi said.

Xayaboury province has many tourism assets and several areas have not been developed as yet. If they are, they have the potential to attract more domestic and foreign tourists to stay several days in the province.

A large number of tourists are already visiting the province once a year for the annual elephant festival but they often leave soon after it is finished.