23 Aug 2019
LAOS: Government Vetoes Unsustainable Vang Vieng Tourism Projects
Tourism projects in the popular Vang Vieng district of the country’s Vientiane province are to be vetoed if they are deemed to be environmentally unsustainable. The decision was announced by the country’s government following the submission of several proposals to develop tourism infrastructure and related facilities in the highly-scenic region.
It is believed that, effective immediately, applications to initiate any tourism projects in the district must be backed by a sustainable development plan. In addition, they must be in compliance with local town planning rules as well as aligning with the area’s official tourism development strategy.
This latest move is something of a turnaround given that, back in 2017, the government announced a raft of incentives, including tax exemptions, aimed at potential investors in the country’s tourism sector. Since then, however, it is believed that a number of such projects have contravened planning agreements, been subject to extensive delays or have been deemed systemic abuses of the country’s investment programme. As a result, the government is now said to be considering assessing the financial viability of would-be investors prior to assenting to the development of any project.
Hong Kong investors may want to note that the tourism potential of the Vang Vieng district is expected to soar once the connecting BRI-backed China-Laos Railway Project is completed in 2021. The railway will connect the Laotian capital of Vientiane to the country’s land border with China. An additional tourism push is also expected to be provided once the Vientiane-Boten expressway, which passes through Vang Vieng, is completed. The expressway will provide high-speed road connectivity from the capital to the country’s border with China.