VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Tourism development along the shared border of Laos and Vietnam does not match the true potential offered by the two countries, tourism experts say.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the shared borderline of more than 2,300km with eight international border crossings and nine border-gate economic zones between the two countries has great development potential and holds a strategic position on the East-West economic corridor.
Laos and Vietnam have a series of nearby natural protected areas, waterfalls and cave systems with pristine landscapes ideal for caravan and overland tours.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, general director of Ant Travel based in Vietnam’s northern province of Dien Bien, was quoted in VnExpress as saying that many travel firms in border provinces and even in major cities have shown little interest in developing characteristic tourism products in the border area.
There are currently a few travel agencies organising low-cost tours from Hanoi and Danang to Pakxe, Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos, he said.
Tuan said complicated and inconsistent administrative procedures to get access to the border area make it difficult for travel firms to launch tourism products.
He explained that poor traffic infrastructure and limited accommodation facilities are also a major concern for tour companies.
Representatives of 20 provinces along the Laos-Vietnam border recently gathered in Dien Bien Phu City, Vietnam, to discuss ways to promote cooperation in tourism development in the border region.
VNAT Deputy Director-General Ha Van Sieu said bilateral tourism cooperation has seen progress in recent years thanks to the longstanding great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive partnership between Laos and Vietnam.
As a result, a number of tourism promotion and cooperation activities have been jointly organised, attracting government officials, industry associations and tourism enterprises from both sides.
Ta Thi Tu Uyen, deputy director of product development at Vietravel, recommended that the Vietnamese government simplify entry procedures for foreign tourists at border crossings.
In 2019, Vietnam received over 98,000 visitors from Laos while the number of Vietnamese travelling to Laos exceeded 920,000, according to VnExpress.
When the two countries reopened their borders to international visitors, Vietnam received 47,000 visitors from Laos.
Meanwhile, more than 63,000 Vietnamese visited Laos in the first six months of this year, accounting for 30 per cent of the total 211,898 foreign tourist arrivals in the country, according to the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
The private sector has urged the governments of both countries to improve traffic infrastructure in the border area and build more routes connecting Laos and Vietnam.