ASEAN ecotourism event heads to Laos

TD Guest Writer

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Tad Pha Souam the waterfall in Laos
Tad Pha Souam the waterfall in Laos

The city of Pakse in southern Laos will host the ASEAN Ecotourism Forum this month.

Running from 22-25 June, the event is being organised by the Lao government as part of its role as ASEAN chair in 2016.

Running under the theme “ASEAN Without Borders: a Roadmap for Strategic Development of Ecotourism Clusters and Tourism Corridors”, the forum includes a two-day conference with an ASEAN ministerial roundtable. At the end, tourism ministers will adopt a ‘Pakse Declaration’ that will aim to align the region’s ecotourism destinations.

“Intra-ASEAN travel will help to generate economies of scope and scale, especially in the rural areas and strengthen the sustainability of ASEAN’s ecotourism industry,” said Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, Laos’ Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism. “The forum comes at an opportune time for international tourism investors, developers and operators to tap in to the exciting tourism opportunities ahead in the region.”

Dr Bosengkham Vongdara
Dr Bosengkham Vongdara

In 2009, Laos hosted the first World Ecotourism Conference, which produced the UNWTO-endorsed ‘Vientiane Declaration on Ecotourism for Developing Countries’ – a commitment from stakeholders from more than 30 countries, mainly from Asia Pacific, to support sustainable tourism principles and practices.

Speaking on the expected outcomes for the 2016 ecotourism forum, Minister Bosengkham said it was important to strike the right balance between conservation and sustainable development.

“Such an undertaking will require the concerted efforts of all ASEAN member states, as well as the support and expertise of ecotourism practitioners, authorities, ground operators and investors,” he said.

Speakers at the event will include representatives from the World Wildlife Fund, the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the Asian Development Bank, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Birdlife International.
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