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The world names Laos as top tourism destination 2008

Photo: A sticky rice field on top of the Pha Pon Golden Mountain near Luang Prabang, Laos. A Hmong villager stands admiring the sea of clouds below. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hleung/2071568156/in/photostream/)

Perhaps the world's most famous newspaper, the New York Times, recently named Laos as number one of the world's top 53 tourist destinations to visit in 2008.

Author of the Travel Section of the newspaper, Mr Denny Lee, collected information on the most attractive destinations in the world, and named Laos as the number one place to visit this year.

In his report, Mr Lee states that “Vietnam and Cambodia are so 2007. Now, Laos is shaping up to be Indochina's next hot spot. Ancient sites like the Vat Phou temple complex and Vientiane are drawing culture seekers”.

“F oreigners have praised us because our Party has a clear policy on tourism development that conforms with the latest in world's trends,” the Director of the Lao National Tourism Administration's Marketing Promotion Department, Mr S aly Phimphinith, said on Monday.

Mr Lee mentions the unique delight of a luxury teak houseboat cruising down the Mekong.

“Global nomads are heading to Luang Prabang to sample the Lao tasting menu at 3 Naga, or hang out by the infinity pool at the seriously upscale Résidence Phou Vao.”

Tourist destinations continue to be improved, and the tourist sector has increased its efforts to promote tourism. The government has successfully developed the tourism infrastructure as well as improved all facilities for tourists in the country, Mr Saly said.

The administration has also extended cooperation with neighbouring countries and international organisations to attract more foreign tourists to Laos, he said.

“The country offers stability and safety, while at the same time preserving its many national heritage sites as tourist attractions, and this part of the world has therefore become an attractive destination in which to relax,” Mr Saly said.

Due to the beautiful scenery and views, those tourists interested in nature, as well as fine culture, historical sites and the lifestyle of Lao ethnic groups and Lao people are drawn to the region.

The tourism industry plays a very important role in Lao's economy. It generates sustainable incomes for all Lao people and helps to remove people from the despair of poverty, Mr Saly said.

Since the country first began a specific tourism campaign in 1990-2000, the number of visitors to Laos has rapidly increased.

Foreign visitors to Laos topped 737,208 in 2002, and tourism became one of the nation's leading income earners.

The Lao National Tourism Administration is expecting more than a million visitors to Laos this coming year, generating around US$195 million for the tourism sector.

By vientiane times

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