Vietnam-Laos: New prospects for tourism cooperation
|Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung speaks at the opening of the Photo Exhibition on Laos-Vietnam friendship. (Source: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism)|
Tourism cooperation between Vietnam and Laos has continuously developed over the years. The good neighborly relations, traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos are a solid foundation for strengthening cooperation, promoting trade and cultural exchanges, investment and tourism.
The foundation for cooperation was formed in 1991 when the two governments signed an Agreement on tourism cooperation. According to the Agreement, the tourism management ministries have signed many plans for the period 1997-1998, 1999-2000, 2001-2002, 2012-2015, 2016-2020, 2021-2025 with specific activities. Vietnam's tourism promotion strategy and Vietnam's tourism development strategy to 2030 both identify the Southeast Asian markets, including Laos, as important markets to focus on exploiting.
The two countries have exempted visas for ordinary passport holders. Transport by air, river and road connecting the major cities is convenient for tourism development. Businesses of the two sides cooperate closely in organizing self-driving car tours, road and air travel.
After the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic from 2019-2021, now, both have reopened all domestic and international tourism activities.
Every year, Laos' tourism partners participate and have booths at VITM International Fair in Hanoi and ITE-HCMC in Ho Chi Minh City. Tourism authorities regularly support each other to organize destination introduction programs, conferences and seminars on tourism promotion and investment in Vietnam or within the framework of Tourism Culture Days of Vietnam in Laos.
|Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung met Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Suansavanh Viyaketh on July 19, 2022. (Source: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism)|
During the year of 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Vietnam-Laos Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is actively implementing integrated tasks related to advertising promotion, cooperation in culture and tourism.
It is expected that in September 2022, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism will coordinate with the People's Committee of Dien Bien province to organize a workshop on tourism development in the border area between Vietnam and Laos, and organize programs of experiencing for travel agencies, media and localities of the two countries to survey tourist attractions and historical sites in Dien Bien province within the framework of the 3th festival of cultural, sports and tourism exchange in Vietnam-Laos border area, held in Dien Bien province in 2022.
Besides, Vietnam and Laos closely cooperate in many regional tourism forums such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Greater Mekong Subregion Cooperation (GMS), Ayeyarwady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), Four Countries-One Destination Cooperation (CLMV), The Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area Cooperation (CLV), Southern Corridor Tourism Cooperation ( Laos-Thailand-Vietnam), Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC).
Within the framework of CLV cooperation, at the 11th CLV Summit on December 9, 2020, the Prime Ministers of the three countries approved the "Plan for Tourism Development in the CLV Triangle Area for the period 2020-2025 towards 2030”. In May 2022, Vietnam hosted the first online meeting of the CLV Tourism Working Group to discuss the assignment under the Plan, in which each country led the implementation of 5 tasks.
|The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism presides over the online meeting of the Tourism Working Group to implement the Tourism Development Plan for the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area (CLV) for the period 2020-2025, with a vision to 2030, May 2022. (Source: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism)|
With cooperative efforts from both sides, the tourist exchange in 2019 (before the Covid-19 pandemic) reached over 1.2 million, of which Laos visitors to Vietnam reached more than 98,000; Vietnamese tourists to Laos reached 924,875 turns. Vietnam is the third largest market of sending tourists to Laos.
After the two countries have re-opened international tourism (in Vietnam from March 15, 2022,in Laos from May 9, 2022), the tourist exchange achieved many encouraging results. In the first six months of 2022, Vietnam welcomed 18,693 Lao tourists; Vietnamese tourists to Laos reached 49,164, accounting for 28% of the total number of international visitors to Laos, ranking second, after Thailand.
In the coming time, the tourism industry will focus on cooperation in the following specific contents:
Regarding promotion, the tourism industry strives to improve the effectiveness of promotion activities, both direct and online on popular media channels and social networks. The two sides considered the possibility of application of digital technology in tourism recovery and development communication; create conditions to participate in tourism promotion fairs in each country; develop campaigns to promote and connect world heritage sites; organize programs to introduce Vietnam-Laos common destinations in some bilateral key markets.
In terms of product development, both countries have increased exchanges to develop products to connect tours, routes between destinations of the travel businesses and two countries. The two sides cooperate to welcome delegations from third countries, especially from the source and key markets, such as the US, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand…
The tourism industries closely coordinate in implementing the tasks of the Development Plan in the CLV Triangle Area for the period 2020-2025 and orientation to 2030 as well as within the framework of multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as ASEAN, GMS, CLMV, ACMECS…
Vietnam and Laos encourage localities in connecting and developing border tourism. Together we recommend relevant ministries and sectors to upgrade the system of border gates and roads, and invest in rest stops on road routes connecting international border gates to tourist destinations.
It can be affirmed that Vietnam-Laos tourism cooperation is promising, contributing to further tightening the bilateral great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation. The tourism industry of Vietnam and Laos will soon recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow.