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Luang Prabang celebrates top travel award 2008

The World Heritage town of Luang Prabang last Sunday celebrated its award by the UK 's leading travel magazine, Wanderlust, of the ‘Top City Gold Award', for the third successive year.

The celebrations began with food offerings to monks, followed by processions carrying national flags and banners, and an elephant parade.

The parade began at the provincial administration office and slowly travelled along Sisavangvong Road to Vat Xieng Thong, with local and foreign visitors joining in the celebrations.

Speaking before the parade, Governor of Luang Prabang province Bounheuang Douangphachan said the people of Luang Prabang were very proud to receive the international accolade.

“The award is not easy to win and we were competing with many well-known cities around the world,” he said.

Luang Prabang authorities have treated tourism as a priority in achieving socio-economic development and the industry has grown rapidly. The province has developed tourism services for cultural, natural and historical attractions to bring economic benefits to local people, he said.

The town was voted into the magazine's top 10 cities, from a list of 615, before the decision was made to give it the gold award. A poll of the magazine's readers who had visited the city found a satisfaction rating of more than 97 percent.

Luang Prabang won the award because it is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by Europeans in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 1,200-year-old historic town is considered to be the cultural and religious capital of Laos .

“The most important aspect of the town is the charm and hospitality of its people, a characteristic that has been handed down over the centuries. Now it has been revealed to the world,” Mr Bounheuang said.

He said people of all ethnicities should be proud of their artistic culture and architecture, and urged them to preserve and develop the town in a sustainable way.

In 1995 UNESCO added the town to its list of World Heritage Sites. It became the first such site in Laos , ensuring the preservation of its mixture of traditional Lao and French architecture. Since then its unique character has helped make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Also attending the celebrations were Minister to the Prime Minister's Office and President of the Lao National Tourism Administration Somphong Mongkhonvilay, Deputy Governor Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, and the Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Bouangeun Saphouvong.

By MK. Vongsam-ang

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