On 22 November 2014, under the high patronage and organization of The Institute of International Relations and Economic Cooperation, the annual selection ceremony for electing the BEST ROMANIAN WINE-DIPLOMATIC WINE for 2015 has taken place.
Between 5 to 10 May 2013 a high ranking official delegation of European Council on Tourism and Trade, under the leadership of H.E. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea , President of European Council on Tourism and Trade ( ECTT) was invited for a working visit in People`s Democratic Republic of Lao( Lao PDR).
The Government of LAO PDR and ECTT delegation at the handover ceremony for WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD FOR 2013.
The delegation had also the outstanding task of presenting to the people and Government of Lao PDR the highest honor in tourism: the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD FOR 2013.
The visit has being encompassed in the rapid developing bilateral relation between Europe and Laos, in a rapid evolving dialogue and a reciprocated desire to establish an extensive and consolidate partnership, Laos being presently the main partner of our European Council on Tourism and Trade in the South-East Asia area.
In the framework of H.E. President Dr. Anton Caragea visit an inclusive discussion was held with H.E. Thongsing Thammavong -Prime Minister of Lao.
H.E. Thongsing Thammavong -Prime Minister of Lao PDR and H.E. President of Dr. Anton Caragea in an inclusive discussion.
Tabled at the meeting where the extension of bilateral exchanges in areas such as economy, tourism, culture and political dialogue.
H.E. Thongsing Thammavong -Prime Minister of Lao has outlined for European delegation an extensive presentation of the Laos economic situation as a country in full and ample development, with a rate of annual economic growth of 4 to 7%, and an expansion rate of incoming tourists of more than 20% annually and being counted amongst economic tigers of the area.
Also the Prime Minister had expressed the sincere appreciation of the Government and People of Laos for the instrumental role played by Professor dr. Anton Caragea in promoting Laos image in the world and in bestowing the WORLD BEST TOURISM DESTINATION title for Lao.
On his turn, professor dr. Anton Caragea had emphasized the strong points of Lao: political stability, impressive economic development and the clear express desire to extend the bilateral relation.
The visit H.E. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea lead delegation had included also an extensive dialogue with H.E. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Information, and H. E. Vice-Prime Minister Asang Laoly and Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith-Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Tabled at the meetings where issued such as the establishment of a Council for Business and cooperation, Bilateral Chamber of Commerce, Honorary Consulates and other structures destined to enhance the economic , cultural and political partnership.
H.E. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Information in a fruitful dialogue with H.E. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea.
H.E. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Information expressed his appreciation for the Professor dr. Anton Caragea support for Laos in championing at European level with considerable influence and energy the country as a WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION.
During the discussion with Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara , professor dr.Anton Caragea had presented the arguments for Lao PDR being considered as a world power in culture and tourism , noting that in XXI century that values of a nation is encompassing the cultural and historical patrimony and in this regard Lao PDR is an outstanding country.
At the end of the meeting, professor dr. Mircea Constantinescu, Director of European Tourism Academy had bestow the title and insignia and certificate of European academician to H.E. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Information for his unremitting efforts in promoting tourism as a tool for peace and development.
Mircea Constantinescu, Director of European Tourism Academy bestows academic insignia to Academician Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara.
The program of European delegation headed by H.E. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea also included a strong cultural element like visiting UNESCO heritage city of Luang Prabang, That Luang National Stupa, Vat Siseket temple, Vat Xiang tong, UNESCO classified monuments such as: Vat Vixun, Vat Phat Tai, Royal Palace of Luang Prabang, Phusi and Xieng Tong temple ad National Museum Kaysone Pomvihan etc.
Also a special program was carved off for professor dr. Anton Caragea as WORLD AMBASSADOR OF NATURAL PROTECTED AREAS to visit special natural; monuments situated along the banks of Mekong river.
H.E. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea had highly praised the decision`s taken by the Government of Lao PDR to protect natural patrimony, environmental protection and sustainable development for this important touristic areas.
On 9 May 2013 in an impressive ceremony full of pomp and paraphernalia the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD FOR 2013 was bestow to the people and Government of LAOS.
The ceremony reuniting leaders of Government of Lao PDR, diplomats, academicians, business community, cultural and media representatives had included the presentation of the AWARD FOR WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION IN 2013, the presentation of the main landmark beauties and scenic spots for tourism in Lao an emotional charged speech of H.E. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Information and concluding a large area of fashion presentation, music and dance spectacle that impress favorable the numerous assistance.
By the outstanding organizing the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION CEREMONY in Vientiane, the Government of Lao PDR had proved his extraordinary capacity to host international events and to organize high resounding world meeting.
The successful and felicitous visit of European Council on Tourism and Trade delegation , the high level and inclusive dialogue with the relevant authorities of Lao PDR, the reciprocated vision of rapid evolving relations, the clearly marked economic, touristic and cultural opportunities are all testament`s of the desire to further extend the dialogue.
On behalf of the Lao government and people, it is my pleasure and delight to welcome all delegates to the presentation ceremony of the World’s Best Tourist Destination Award for 2013 to Laos.
Today, the Lao government and people are proud and delighted to have received this honourable prize, which demonstrates the great achievements of tourism development in Laos. Laos offers impressive tourist attractions and services for tourists from across the world.
Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism of Lao PDR-Academician Professor dr. Bosengkham Vongdara and European Council on Tourism and Trade high ranking official`s delegation in Vientiane.
I would like to take this opportunity to praise and express my sincere gratitude to the European Council on Tourism and Trade and all tourists for highly valuing Lao tourism and selecting Laos as the World’s Best Tourist Destination for 2013.
I would like, especially, to welcome Prof. Dr Anton Caragea, Chairman of the European Council on Tourism and Trade, and his delegation to Laos to attend the ceremony and present the award.
The Lao PDR is diverse in languages, cultures and customs, which have been inherited from our ancestors over thousands of years. The country is rich in spectacular natural resources as well as having a long and civilised history and well-known archaeological sites, which further boosts Laos’ tourism potential.
With great effort and a high sense of responsibility by the Party and government since the 4th Party Congress in 1986 outlined a comprehensive renovation policy to open up for foreign cooperation, tourism has played an ever more prominent role in the country’s socio-economic development. The government has defined policy and taken action to develop and promote cultural, natural and historical tourism.
To facilitate the growth of tourism and services, the government has done its utmost to develop infrastructure such as building roads to link all regions across the country as well as connecting with neighbouring countries. Over the past 4-5 years, the government has exerted utmost efforts to increase the number of border checkpoints to integrate with countries in the region and the world at large. At present, the Lao PDR has 23 international checkpoints, of which 21 can issue visas. Laos has four international airports (Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang International Airport, Savannakhet International Airport and Pakxe International Airport). Visas have been exempted for citizens of Asean member countries. Laos has also granted visa exemptions to citizens of Japan, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Russia, Mongolia and Luxembourg.
The authorities have redefined that visas issued at checkpoints permit the holders to stay in Laos for 15 days, reduced from 30 days previously. According to Prime Ministerial Order No. 15 issued on June 20, 2006, these visas can be extended by the provincial authorities instead of only by the Vientiane authority as before. In addition, the government grants three-month visas to foreign citizens of Lao origin who acquire visas from Lao embassies, which can be extended for another three months. However, visas issued at border checkpoints grant only a two-month stay with another two months of extension. After implementing the aforesaid tourism development and promotion policy, the tourism sec tor has grown rapidly. From 1990 to 2012, foreign tourist arrivals have risen by an average of 20.36 percent annually.
In 2012, Laos registered 3,330,072 foreign tourists generating total revenue as high as US$513,576,784. By 2013 the number of tour operators had risen to 275 companies. Hotels and guesthouses have also increased and in 2012 there were 3,526 hotels and guesthouses offering 35,857 rooms. Laos now has 1,493 official tourist sites comprising 849 sites of natural interest, 435 sites of cultural interest, and 209 historical sites.
Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism of Lao PDR-Academician Professor dr. Bosengkham Vongdara deleivering acceptance speech for LAOS: WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD IN 2013.
The Lao PDR shares similar characteristics with many other countries, such as different and diverse traditions and customs among its multi-ethnic people. There are also impressive archaeological and historical sites such as Luang Prabang, the historic town and living world heritage site, and Vat Phou Champassak, which is another world heritage site dating back to the 12th century.
In addition, the historic caves of Viengxay (deemed to be the birthplace of the Lao PDR) have become an open-air museum, while the Plain of Jars is expected to be listed as a world heritage site in the near future. The Lao PDR also has rich and beautiful natural sites suitable for development as ecotourism attractions and green industry without smog or hazardous pollution, which will become new relaxing sites to impress visitors from the region and the world.
Community-based eco-tourism programmes have become Laos’ unique feature and have great potential because they give visitors the chance to get in touch with and taste nat ure, as well as the everyday life of local people and the customs practised by the Lao multiethnic people. To translate the tourism development strategic plan for 2011-2020, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in collaboration with provincial authorities have carried out nature-based tourism activities with the participation of local people by making use of the local potential and conditions of each province. Such activities were first initiated in 2000 in Luang Namtha province, called the ‘Community-based Eco-tourism Programme’. Similar programmes now exist in all 17 provinces involving 40 districts and 160 villages, and have generated income directly for local people.
Because of these progressive great achievements of the Lao tourism sector coupled with the impressive progress made in socio-economic development across the country, Laos has been praised by tourists and friendly countries across the world, justified by the fact that Laos has been awarded many honourable and impressive prizes as follows:
In 2008, the New York Times named Laos as one of 53 countries it described as the world’s top tourist destinations.
The world heritage site of Luang Prabang received the Top City Gold Award after being voted the world’s top tourist destination by Wanderlust, a UK based travel magazine from 2006 to 2008, and again from 2010 to 2012.
The Community-based Eco-tourism Programme in the Nam Ha Protected Forest Area in Luang Namtha province also won an award for ‘best poverty alleviation project’ and ‘best services’ given by the United Nations Development Programme. And today, we feel proud and honoured that the European Council on Tourism and Trade awards Laos with the World’s Best Tourist Destination Award for 2013. This honourable prize will make Laos even more popular among tourists across the globe, and will drive the development of the tourism sector in our country.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to Professor Dr Anton Caragea, President of the European Council on Tourism and Trade, for highly valuing the development of Lao tourism. I agree with his comment that “In the 21st century, tourism has become an important bridge for friendship and relations among nations in the world; it is also a way to promote peace and mutual understanding and lead the way to a good future.”
The Lao PDR stands ready to continue to develop the tourism sector to contribute to establishing and enhancing friendly relations among nations in the world to make a joint effort to promote peace and mutual understanding, together entering into the proper future of development under the sky of peace, friendship and sustainable cooperation.
On this auspicious occasion, I would like to wish Party and state leaders and honourable Lao and foreign guests participating in this ceremony good health, success in your noble tasks, happiness and prosperity, and further contributions to the tourism development of our country for progressive success.
I would like, especially, to wish Professor Dr Anton Caragea and high-level delegates from the European Council on Tourism and Trade good health, success in your noble tasks and happiness, and to further contribute to promoting Lao tourism in Europe and across the globe.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
We traveled here to bring to you, the people of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, our message of friendship, peace, tolerance and mutual understanding, a message from the very heart of the Europe.
This spring, The European Council on Tourism and Trade awarded the highest tourism prize, the World Best Tourist Destination for 2013 to the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos.
60 years ago a well known scientist predicted that up to the end of the last century the world will become global, and that all the people in the world will be living in “the global village”.
It seems indeed that we are living now in a global world, where all the nations are called to solve complex problems of international, national, confessional, environmental and social nature.
And Laos is indeed a part of this global village. The strategic perspective and the wise and balanced approach adopted by your government and by your country’s leadership is a wonderful example. Your country is connected to the world with care and confidence, step by step, keeping a balance between the international and the national perspective.
This means respect for the national identity of Laos, a realization of the importance of the country’s image in the world, as well as a need for a sincere and positive cooperation with other countries for the progress and well-being of mankind.
When we study the realities of Laos and place of Laos in the modern world we discover that your country is from a certain point of view the “melting pot” that the same scientist predicted, a place and a nation where interethnic, interracial, inter-confessional problems are solved peacefully, with a careful approach to the environment, people, ancient and modern culture, national and global economy.
Here is a typical example of the wise manner in which the country’s leadership is solving complex problems and situations.
The leaders of Laos, in accordance with the needs and expectations of the Laos society and people decided that the activities of information, culture and tourism are gathered under the same umbrella, in the same ministry, underlying the importance of the three activities, their national importance, as well as their strong interconnection.
Information is vital for any human activity, for any nation involved in the process of multilateral development. The last century could be described as the beginning of the information age. It seems to be a never-ending story. Recent studies revealed the too much information from too many sources could be harmful. The individual effort of looking for information sources, receiving and decoding, selecting and interpreting may require too much effort. Too much and too divers information could be confusing. Spending too much time inside the virtual world keeps us from living in real life: to work, to spend quality time with family and friends, to meet new people and to enjoy the nature. From ancient times, teaching was the basic method of censorship and selection, of passing important information from one generation to another.
Culture is the heart of every nation, of every group of people related by place, time and political context. Again, almost 40 years ago, the new leadership of your country took a wise and strategic decision to the build the identity of the Lao nation, the present and the future of the country on the heritage of the past. Wisdom and tolerance, firmness and balance, were the concepts that guided the building of a nation, proud of its past and confident in its future.
The collaboration with UNESCO in identifying and carefully preserving the heritage of the Lao people is at the same time a token of admiration and respect of the whole world for the treasures of the Lao nation. As you may know, the most precious treasure of your country, are the people! They are friendly and their hospitality is already known around the world. They seem to live according to other time measures, and I am sure that the English idioms “take your time” and “take it easy” have their ancient roots in Lao!
We may thank you for reminding us that there is life beyond stress, morning rush, crazy schedules and endless meetings…..
And at last, the most complex task of all: tourism. It involves resources and money, smart managers and nice people, a cultural heritage and an enchanting nature, along with good food, good transportation, good housing and most of all, good will.
Taking a look at the progress made by Laos’s tourism, we may affirm that Laos has all the above incentives, and may become many years from now, a preferred tourist destination for millions of people from all over the world.
It is so easy for me to bring to you all the good words from the European Union. I would like to congratulate once again your great leaders, their leadership teams and all the Lao people, men and women that contributed to building together a proud nation, admired and respected by the entire world.
And finally from our hearts again congratulations for being awarded the highest tourism prize, the World Best Tourist Destination for 2013 to the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos by The European Council on Tourism and Trade.
Your Excellency Mr. Asang Laoly ,Vice-Prime Minister of Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao,
Your Excellency Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith ,Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice-Prime Minister of Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao,
Your Excellency`s distinguish members of Government of Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao
Distinguish guests ,
We have all gather here to pay homage to an idea and to a country that embodies this idea.
The idea is encompass in the simple truth that: in XXI century tourism has become a bridge towards knowledge and friendship between peoples and countries , a way to promote peace and understanding , a road that leads towards a better future.
We have also gather here to express our appreciation for a country and a people that will embody in 2013 this triumphant spirit of tourism: the people of Lao.
I must re-emphasize that: tourism is in the XXI century, not only a way to enjoy life, to discover new places, new cultures but also a mass phenomenon that combines sightseeing, recreation and health care.
Tourism has become, in the world today, an intrinsic value of human life and experience and what I like to call a natural right of all people: the right to move freely, to express freely and to enjoy a life of adventure and discoveries.
Undoubtedly, for a country tourism is a constant and serious source of revenue, is becoming an important factor to promote development, to build roads, to offer to people a source of income and employment, a source of prosperity.
But, material significance of tourism must not elapse the true value of tourism: as a way for people`s to build bridges of friendship and tolerance , to discover different cultures, ideas and way`s of life, to embrace the beauty of being different .
We must also clearly mark that: tourism must be based on a set of values such as nature preservation, cultural and historical patrimony conservation for future generation and exactly for this need we have carved WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD as an international recognition for the country`s that are respecting this values .
I must say what a privilege is for our delegation to honor a country that is becoming a WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION.
It is also a great pleasure to address our salute to the great people of Lao, a people that had build throughout centuries a perfect civilization, with hundreds of monuments of historical and civilization relevance ,a people that had offered to humanity countless riches: from religious temple and scriptures to literary texts and historical writings .
Today, Lao had become a cultural and touristic world power and the main credit belongs, without a doubt, to the great people of Laos, that from 1975 onwards is constructing a life of dignity, liberty and tolerance in a free country.
Today, in a world that rarely accepts and tolerates difference, we come to honor a country of TOLERANCE, in a world crowded with pseudo-culture, without a form and substance , we come today to honor a TRUE CULTURE , in a world that is loosing the true values, we come today the honor a real TOURISTIC VALUE, in a time in which to many speak and do not act for historical sites preservation , we come to honor a PARADISE OF HISTORY , we come to honor the People`s Democratic Republic of LAO .
Here, we have all gather to show our support for the values of humanity, of educational and cultural tourism . We are all here in the search for a country that offer to tourists a complete experience , a country that educates spirit, elevates soul and gives everybody a lesson in history and culture.
We all have found in LAO the perfect teacher in tourism, offering to all the tourist`s of the world the possibility of a safe, pleasurable and enlightening tourist experience.
Among the reasons leading to awarding WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2013 title to PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS our report had taken under consideration:
– The preservation of an outstanding historical and cultural patrimony that comprises wonderful sites such as: Wat Phu- a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 12th century, the remarkable site from Plain of Jars, offering an insight into Neolithic civilization and a rare window into traditions of centuries.
A name that needs no introduction: the UNESCO heritage site of Luang Prabang, with the gems of Haw Kham and Vat Xieng Toung monastery.
I could continue for hours this list of treasures, but I will enumerate just in Vientiane- Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple of the city and the world famous That Luang complex.
Today, Lao is offering an open air museum, a rare collection of historical and archeological treasures that educate and enrich the world.
– The preservation of religious sites of world significance and value such as: Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important of world Buddhism monasteries and remains a significant place for the spirit of religion and traditional art. Other sites that must be mentioned such as: Wat Phu ( UNESCO heritage site) and Champasak Cultural Landscape ( under UNESCO recognition).
Keeping alive spiritual tradition, integrating tourist`s and visitors in the atmosphere of the Lao people, offering possibility for an enriching cultural experience, are all achievements that transform Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO in a spiritual destination of first hand.
– Promoting a new concept of community based tourism, friendly to nature, with low ecological impact and preservation of natural biodiversity and protection of endangered species and areas, especially rainforest eco-climate.
Community based ecotourism is a way to share revenues and income, to support rural communities in prospering and presenting there foodstuff and handicrafts to the world and to make the base for an economic local development. Sharing tourism benefits to all the population, offering a social tourism it is a lesson that Lao is offering to the world.
Supporting Lao community tourism project as a way to spread wealth, it is a duty for everybody and one of the main reason for portraying Laos as a world example of democratic tourism , a tourism that is not only offering benefits to the rich, but to all people. Lao example must be appreciated and supported , and all tourist that are going to Lao must know that an investment in Lao tourism is an investment in the future of Lao people.
– Offering to tourists not only a historical and outstanding cultural experience but also the possibility to explore nature , to contribute to ecological preservation and the opportunity to visit extraordinary space such as: Nam Ngum reservoir , Bolaven plateau, Mekong river islands , Mekong river boat trip , Tad Kouangsi waterfall , the cave of de Ting . All this are model of achievements in ecological and green tourism that must be world recognized .
– The continuous development and protection of cultural and historical patrimony of Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO, the transformation of Vientiane in a historical and spiritual center offering to the visitor a glimpse into rich culture and heritage of peoples of Lao.
For all this reasons, among many others, European Council on Tourism and Trade decided, unanimously, to award WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2013 title to PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS and to declare PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS- FAVORITE CULTURAL DESTINATION in 2013.
This title is an international recognition of Your work for Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO until today, in the service of history and civilization, tourism and culture , in the service of the people of LAO, but is also a challenge because now we are expecting your services in the future benefit of the world culture and tourism.
May this award be transformed in a support for developing the international standing of Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO , for a sustainable tourism and development and in a base for further success for SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL – Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO .
Is my privileged to award Your Excellency, as representative of tourism of PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS the award for WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2013.
We congratulate You and people of Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO for this outstanding achievements.
H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid-Vice-President of United Arab Emirates, Prime -Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai