How does tourism benefit you?

With tourism on the upsurge in Laos and one of the country’s main income earners, staff from the Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism along with media personnel recently visited Tadlo Lodge and waterfall in Saravan province to investigate the impacts of tourism there. Vientiane Times talked to some of the local folk about what tourism means to them.

 

Mr Khamharn Vilaisone, the manager of Tadlo Lodge: Of course, tourists and visitors mean the business can generate some profit so I am all for encouraging people to visit Saravan.  I want to thank the Tourism Marketing Department and the media team for visiting and supporting the region’s tourist attractions. As Tadlo Lodge is not very well known, I’m happy for it to have as much exposure as possible. I am glad to work with experts from the Tourism Marketing Department as they have shared some valuable information and tips on how to attract people to the Lodge. Renovations take time but we are very keen to retain the principles of ecotourism in all future expansions here.

Ms Yong, a resident of Thataeng district: Tourism is very good for the locals here.  It’s an opportunity for many of us to sell forest products and other things and make some extra money. It is a 2km walk from my village to Tadlo Lodge where I sell my products.  It’s a long way but it means I can get enough money to buy food for my family.  Tourists and the money they spend have allowed many families here to have better lives.

Ms Tue, a resident of Laongam district:  When I first saw the media team with a video camera I wondered what was going on. But when I found out they were here to explore Tadlo Lodge I was happy because it might mean more exposure for the place, and more visitors. It’s very hard to make a living from tourism in Saravan because it’s still considered to be somewhat off the beaten track compared to some of the more popular tourist destinations. I don’t have any work right now because there haven’t been enough visitors buying forest products and it hasn’t been worth the effort of harvesting more than my family and I need.  Saravan is unique in Laos because of the presence of so many diverse and ethnic communities that still live in natural and quite beautiful settings. In my opinion this is what the media team should report on to encourage people to visit Saravan. They should say that Saravan is as beautiful and exotic a place as you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Ms Noy, a resident of Laongam district: I have had 16 children. Six of them have died and 10 are still alive.  To support the family I work as a cleaner at Tadlo Lodge, just like my husband does. I think everyone benefits if the local area is promoted as a tourist destination.  In largely rural areas like Saravan, where infrastructure isn’t as advanced as in the larger towns, many people may not consider visiting even though we are not far from Pakxe or Savannakhet. When travellers come and see how relaxing, friendly and interesting it is here, I hope they will share it on social media so that more people come.

Ms Loi, a resident of Thataeng district: I don’t know much about tourism really, but I reckon any media promotion of Tadlo Lodge and the surrounding region is a good idea because it really is so beautiful. Just google it and have a look at the images.  Even though many people here are poor, it is one of the most picturesque provinces in the whole country.  There are lots of good cooks here too!

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update January 17, 2019)


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