VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Tourists and members of various international organisations are now starting to arrive in Laos after the government reopened the country to foreign nationals this month.
The first group to arrive on Monday heralded the revival of tourism after Laos closed its doors to foreign nationals in March 2020 when the Covid pandemic struck. The group comprised 17 students and six teachers from Ipo High School in Seoul, Republic of Korea, who arrived at Wattay International Airport.
A representative of Fasikham Secondary School in Naxaithong district, Vientiane, Kim Daesong, welcomed the group, whose travel arrangements in Vientiane are being organised by Family Tour Co., Ltd. From Jan 10 to Feb 20, pupils from Fasikham school and the Korean students will play golf together and share in various cultural and artistic pursuits.
The Korean students said they were keen to visit Vangvieng district in Vientiane province to see the dramatic scenery as well as taking in other places of interest.
Present to welcome the group at Wattay International Airport were members of the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 taskforce and other officials, who screened arriving passengers for Covid-19.
New arrivals are required to take a Covid test at a border crossing or airport terminal upon entry and quarantine in a designated hotel for 24 hours.
Staff from the Vientiane Bus Enterprise are providing services for visitors travelling to quarantine locations.
Around the country, local residents are preparing for the return of tourists, whose excursions will initially be confined to Vientiane, Luang Prabang province and Vangvieng district in Vientiane province.
These three locations have been designated as green travel zones and will accept visitors from Jan 1 until March 30 under the first phase of a three-stage tourism resumption programme.
Travel destinations have been limited because of the difficulties involved in opening up the whole country while Covid control measures remain in force.
Tourism staff will be responsible for receiving and screening guests at hotels. All visitors must be fully vaccinated and will be tested for Covid upon arrival in Laos.
The government is now accepting tourists from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Japan, France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the USA, Canada and Australia.
Several tourist attractions in green travel zones are now ready to receive visitors under the “new normal” conditions introduced due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In Vangvieng district, local authorities have improved the standard of accommodation and services at restaurants and have prepared special facilities for visitors.