The Lao People's Democratic Republic's
Vision for Ecotourism:
“Laos will become a world renowned destination specializing in forms of sustainable tourism that, through partnership and cooperation, benefit natural and cultural heritage conservation, local socio-economic development and spreads knowledge of Laos' unique cultural heritage around the world.”
Every day, Lao and international stakeholders work towards realizing this vision. We therefore invite you to visit Laos and experience for yourself the splendid biodiversity and cultural heritage that makes Lao Ecotourism so special and unique.
The Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) has a low population density, unspoiled diverse ethnic lifestyles and traditions, and perhaps the richest, most extensive network of ecosystems on the Indochina Peninsula. There are over 800 species of birds and more than 100 large mammals already identified in Laos – with new species being discovered every year. Some of the more charismatic species include Tigers, Clouded Leopards, Douc Languar, Gibbons, the Irrawaddy Dolphin, Hornbills, Peafowls, Ibis, Crested Argus' and Silver Pheasants. In place to protect and conserve these irreplaceable resources is a network of 20 National Protected Areas, often cited as one of the best designed Protected Area Systems in the world. In addition to the country's vast protected forests and aquatic resources, Laos has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - The Ancient City of Luang Prabang and the pre-Angkorian Vat Phou Temple Complex. There is also the mysterious Plain of Jars, a forthcoming World Heritage Site that has significant archaeological, historical and natural values.
Eager to position Laos as a premier ecotourism destination, the Lao National Tourism Administration, related government agencies and the private sector are working hard to realize the ambitious vision put forth in the country's National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan. Enshrined in this plan are the following principles:
Guiding Principles of Lao Ecotourism
- Decrease environmental & cultural impacts.
Increase awareness of the importance of the ethnic groups and biological diversity.
- Promote responsible business practices, which cooperate closely with local authorities and people to support poverty alleviation and deliver conservation benefits.
- Provide a source of income to conserve, sustain and manage the Lao protected area network and cultural heritage sites.
- Emphasize the need for tourism zoning and management plans for sites that will be developed as ecotourism-destinations.
- Use environmental and social base-line data, as well as long term monitoring programs, to assess and minimize negative impacts.
- Maximize the benefits for the Lao national economy especially local businesses and people living in and around the protected areas.
- Ensure that tourism does not exceed the social and economic limits as determined by researchers working in conjunction with local residents.
- Promote local styles of architecture that are developed in harmony with Lao culture and environment, that use local materials, minimize energy consumption and conserve local plants and wildlife.