Laos Prime Minister receives UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism from UNWTO Secretary-General

Madrid, Spain, 2013-11-18 — / — The Prime Minister of Laos, Thongsing Thammavong, acknowledged tourism as central to the agenda of the government of Laos when accepting the UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism from UNWTO Secretary-General, in support of mainstreaming the sector in the national and international agendas.

Prime Minister Thammavong said, “Tourism development is being taken very seriously by the Laos government as an important agenda item for socio-economic development of the country. We are counting on UNWTO´s support in the areas of sustainable tourism, human resources development and quality tourism services.”

Laos has seen a significant rise in tourism over the past decade, from 0.2 million tourists in 2000 to 3.3 million tourists in 2012. Building on the promotional brand, “Simply Beautiful”, Laos has adopted an awareness raising programme for preserving cultural and natural resources and is committed to establish a Tourism Center of Excellence for human resource capacity building.

“The tourism achievements shown by Laos in the past decade are very impressive. The country has great potential and opportunity for continued balanced growth because of its cultural treasures and natural beauty”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Tourists can travel around the country and enjoy an enriching interaction with the local population, its traditions and culture, especially in Luang Prabang, which is the most prominent tourism destination in Laos.”

“Travel & Tourism is a major component of the economy of Laos. In total, almost 17% of the country’s economy is related to the Travel & Tourism industry, which also supports one in six of the country’s jobs,” said David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC.  “Laos is also experiencing a rapid expansion of its Travel & Tourism industry – growth of 8% during 2013 is forecast to be among the highest of any country in the world.”

Note to Editors:

UNWTO and WTTC are jointly presenting heads of state and government around the world an Open Letter which calls on them to acknowledge tourism’s key role in delivering more sustained and balanced growth and to prioritize the sector higher in national policies in order to maximize its potential. The Open Letter outlines Travel & Tourism’s value as one of the world’s largest generators of jobs, a powerful driver of socio-economic growth and development and a key player in the transformation to the Green Economy. To date, 56 heads of state and government have received the Open Letter from UNWTO and WTTC.


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