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Bokeo plans to attract more tourists !

The tourism sector in Bokeo province will undertake three development projects to attract visitors to stay longer in the province in coming years.

The tourism department will develop a hot spring and create tourist villages in Tonpheung district in the north of the province, an area that forms part of the Golden Triangle between Laos , Thailand and Myanmar .

Department Director, Mr Vanthong Chittakoun, this week said the department also planned to organise tourist activities including camping and kayaking in the Nam Nhon river in Houayxai district.

Other plans for the area include eco-tourism development in the area of Phouxifa mountain in Paktha district. The main tourist activities there will include rock climbing, camping and trekking.

Mr Vanthong said the Asian Development Bank had agreed to provide financial support and he expected the projects to begin in 2009.

Bokeo currently serves as a gateway for tourists who are travelling across the Mekong River to or from Chiang Rai province in Thailand .

“Of all the tourists who come to the province 80 percent of them will get on a boat and go to other provinces,” Mr Vanthong said.

A lot of tourists visit Bokeo, but most of them do not stay there because of the lack of tourist facilities. The city is currently just a transit route for visitors on their way to places such as Luang Namtha and Luang Prabang provinces, and Pakbaeng district of Oudomxay province.

A guesthouse manager in Houayxai district told Vientiane Times that many of his guests arrived via the Mekong River from Thailand and most stayed for only one night.

Bokeo has a lot of attractive tourist sites such as the Nam Nhon waterfall, hot springs and hill villages, but few of them have been developed or promoted.

Mr Vanthong said the province currently had few visitor attractions, although there was a nature tourism site in the Namkan conservation area, managed by a French investor.

This site is about 80km from the province's capital city Houayxai.

Another attraction is Donxao island in Tonpheung district, which is about 50km from the provincial capital. Many of the tourists who cross the Mekong River at Chiang Saen in Chiang Rai province stop at the island to buy souvenirs and handmade products.

More than 88,000 tourists have visited the province this year, an increase from the 20,000 visitors last year, according to statistics from the provincial tourism sector.


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