The second “Let’s Travel” expo, organized by Lao Airlines, EXO Travel Laos, and Vientiane Center will be held at the Vientiane Center on 19-21 February 2021, to promote domestic travel in Laos during the pandemic.
The floor of the inaugural Let’s Travel expo
The event builds on the inaugural two-day Let’s Travel show in October 2020 that netted some 100 million kip ($11,000) from Covid-era sales in package tours, flights, room nights, and activities, while providing Lao destination information to about a 1,000 visitors.
According to EXO Travel Lao Managing Director Duangmala Phommavong, “For the second edition we will have support from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and foreign chambers in Laos to promote the country’s tourism among their members.”
Event co-organizer, EXO Travel Laos MC Duangmala Phommavong
Ms Phommavong said the 2nd edition of Let’s Travel has grown to three days and 32 booths to provide information about the ongoing Lao Thiao Lao domestic tourism campaign as well as travel businesses and destinations. She added the event will promote travel discounts and hold Lucky Draws and games providing winners with travel vouchers.
Inthira Group Founder Inthy Deuansavanh, who is spearheading the Lao Thiao Lao initiative for LNCCI, said, “The objective of the Let’s Travel event is to create a platform to communicate about Lao attractions, accommodation, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses to be more known by local people, and to (encourage) them to travel more in their own country, which has many beautiful sites to offer.”
WeAreLao Managing Director John Morris Williams assisted Ms Phommavong in attracting event supporters and businesses to fill the event’s booths. He stressed the need to target the domestic market during the pandemic.
“Promoting Laos from within now is vital to show the world we are still here, waiting for the day to welcome our overseas partners back to Laos: The Last Frontier in Asia,” he said, adding “WeAreLao.com is a leading destination portal and the largest, most informative website in Laos that reaches 15,000 agents worldwide…We are here to support Laos and our hospitality industry.”
Among the leaders of The Last Frontier, Namkat Yorla Pa Resort joined the event, as it is, “The perfect occasion for us to show that we are still open and ready to welcome guests with (discount) prices they have never seen before,” said the property’s General Manager Benjamin Daout.
Activities in nture at Nam Kat Yorla Pa in Oudomxay
“Namkat is one of a kind; we are the perfect mix between nature and luxury. Guests don’t go to Oudomxay, they go to Namkat Yorla Pa. We have enough activities and relaxation areas to easily keep them inside our place for five days.”
South of the city sits Pakbeng on the Mekong, which has been repositioning itself as a must-see destination and not just an overnight stop on the popular two-day Houay Xay-Luang Prabang cruise.
The five-star Le Grand Pakbeng sits atop a hill with a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the Mekong.
Le Grand Pakbeng opens the door to unspoiled ethnic minorities and nature on the Mekong
“Le Grand Pakbeng is a hub of both river and overland trips in northern Laos,” said Visit Asia Travel Managing Director Ket Thipphachanh, who owns and operates the scenic resort. “From Le Grand, you can easily visit unspoiled ethnic minorities, whose unique culture is perhaps the best preserved in the northern Laos.”
Mr Thipphachanh views the significance of the Let’s Travel expo as two-fold. “This travel show will boost the domestic market to travel more by showcasing new tourism products while supporting local enterprises, which in turn will help drive the entire country’s economy to continue to move ahead.”
The Inthira Vang Vieng has a similar outlook, and Inthira Group General Manager Stan Fradelizi keenly backs efforts like the expo. “Let’s Travel, Lao Thiao Lao, Lao Airlines, and similar domestic tourism campaigns have a very important role in keeping the industry’s head above water. It gives us a direction to keep on moving forward, stay active and motivated, and access the local and expat market,” while also helping the nation’s travel trade survive.”
Taking in a moment at Inthira Vang Vieng
The Inthira Vang Vieng delivers moments for its guests in a contemporarily designed 38-room hotel on the Nam Song riverbank with unobstructed views of the area’s famed mountains.
Mr Fradelizi said the new Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway will give the city a boost for tourism and business and incentive events as the area has what they seek. “The ever-changing Vang Vieng is and always has been about one thing: Fun! Visitors will find a good time through parties and nature, not a bad mix.”
And there is no lack of adventure activities. He noted the Vang Vieng Challenge, balloon and light plane rides, buggies, kayaking, climbing, trekking, and a multitude of blues lagoons alongside a night market, new local and international restaurants…”The list goes on.”
Kingfisher Ecolodge General Manager Chris Mulder’s list of activities in southern Laos is also endless, though many are at the property or just outside the back door. “Kingfisher Ecolodge…is the only lodge/resort on the Xe Pian Protected Ramsar Bio-diversity Area,” and is slated to become a national park this year, he said.
Relaxing in nature in Southern Laos ay the Kingfisher Ecolodge
“From various birders, I have been told that the wetlands and surrounding forests have been their ultimate destination, variety-wise, number-wise and spot-wise,” Mr Mulder said, adding the lodge employs a certified bird-watching guide.
He said the Kingfisher offers dug-out boat rides when the water level in the wetlands allows, but stressed a visit to the Phou Asa ruins, just a 45-minute hike from the lodge, presents an unheard of and unexplained oddity on par with the Plain of Jars.
As tour guide Marco Girelli said, “Phou Asa is made up of a set of towers which remind one of a fortified castle. The ruins consist of a surrounding rectangle of 108 stone towers, each topped by a large flat rock, and a central main temple or shrine area.”
For Mr Mulder, the Let’s Travel expo is important to draw awareness to Southern Laos. “Our slogan is ‘Charming by Nature’, and after a visit, you will appreciate and understand why.” Its many attractions are presented in the Southern Laos booklet as well.
Event organizer Ms Phommavong said this expanded version of Let’s Travel shows demand for domestic tourism, and is looking forward to a large turnout while promoting the country’s attractions and activities to the local market.