Luang Prabang provincial authorities have authorised a Chinese company to carry out a survey for a proposed project which would see the development of a tourism complex near the popular Kuangxi Waterfall.
The authorities said the waterfall itself – a well-known tourist attraction – would not be included in the development in order to preserve it and the nearby area from any possible impact or damage.
“ Any facilities to be developed under the proposed project must be at least 400 metres away from the waterfall,” Deputy Director of the Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Ms Soudaphone Khomthavong, told the V ientiane Times on Friday.
This also means local people will be allowed to continue their tourism-based, income-generating activities at the waterfall if the proposed project goes ahead, she added.
The Chinese developer has told provincial authorities they would spend US$50 million on tourism-related facilities, including a hotel, restaurant and cable car.
Details of the proposed project will be made clear when the survey and feasibility study are complete, according to Ms Soudaphone, who is Vice Chairman of the committee in charge of the project.
A timeframe for the starting date and conclusion of the survey and feasibility study has not yet been determined.
“The details of the survey and feasibility study have not yet been discussed,” she said.
The Chinese developer is interested in this beauty spot in Luang Prabang – a World Heritage Site – because the town and its environs are becomingly increasingly popular among global tourists, especially the Chinese, who flock to admire the cultural charms and rustic beauty of the northern province.
Provincial Governor Dr Khampheng Xaysompheng said the province has seen a remarkable increase in the number of Chinese visitors in recent years.
Thousands of Chinese visit the former royal capital each week, and tour operators are struggling to provide enough Chinese-sp eaking tour guides.
The shortage is likely to intensify in the coming months when daily flights from China to Luang Prabang begin, bringing an even greater influx of Chinese tourists to the ancient city.
Over the first six months of this fiscal year, more than 300,000 people visited the province, one third of whom were Chinese nationals, Dr Khampheng said.
Laos has huge potential in the tourism industry with visitor numbers surging each year. In 2014, the number of foreign visitors exceeded 4.15 million, an increase of about 10 percent compared to 2013.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
Source: Vientiane times