Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What is a tourist attraction in Laos?

Vientiane Times todayt writes about a new urban development project calles the That Luang Marsh:
Under the agreement, Wan Feng Shanghai will spend 12,000 billion kip (more than US$1.5 billion) to develop the marsh into a tourist attraction and cultural centre.
So, what does attract tourists? Let"s have a look on the status quo. There are two main tourists sources, Thai and western foreigners. Thai people visit mainly waterfalls and Wat Phou, some Luang Prabang. They are looking for the nature and landscape. Western tourists are looking for the ancient Laos and culture, that's why most of them go to Luang Prabang. So, what kind of tourists can be atracted by a urban development? The article says:
The development will include open spaces, a public park, lagoon, drainage, roads, a sports centre, and trade and service centres that contain five-star hotels, shopping centres and entertainment venues.The project will also include a residential area and facilities that it is hoped will attract tourists to Laos.
Will tourist come for shopping? I don't think so, since there is nothing to buy in Laos that isn't available in other countries and is cheaper there (except wine). Will tourists come for entertainment? I think Singapore, Malaysia and Hongkong are better choices, even Bangkok. There won't be a new Disneyland, instead expect a chinese park for kids, like the current waterpark. Nice for locals, but not a reason to get a plane from Bangkok or even Europe. So, I dont see any tourists coming. I see middle class Lao and expats, in particular Chinese and Korean, moving in there, as it happend in Saigons Phu My Hung area.

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