Lao officials, businesses mull plans for Covid-safe tourism

International |  IANS  | Published :

Vientiane, Dec 13 (IANS) Lao government officials and business operators have been discussing plans to reopen the country to tourists next month with special Covid-19 measures in place.

The online meeting took place after the government approved the "green tourism areas" scheme, with a view to allowing tourists to visit selected areas, Xinhua news agency quoted the Vientiane Times report as saying on Monday.

The meeting was chaired by Director General of the Planning and International Cooperation Department Phengchanh Phengmeuang.

Participants would discuss arrangements for people visiting designated "green travel" zones, where measures would be introduced to ensure safe travel and prevent the spread of ovid-19, according to the official.

Ministry officials and tourism-related business operators will run a publicity campaign on social media, radio, TV and in newspapers about the reopening of specific tourist destinations, and direct visitors to official websites for further information.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism will provide foreign embassies in Laos with details of the plan, including information about safety measures. It will also circulate information about the health program LaoSafe through provincial travel agencies, tourism associations, and online workshops.

It will give guidance to tourism businesses, drivers and guides through online workshops and other channels as requested or needed, with online sessions on safe travel protocols for tour operators.

Domestic and foreign visitors who wish to travel to green zones must have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine less than 14 days prior to travel.

Foreign visitors must apply for a pass by filling out an online eVisa form and must have a PCR test less than 72 hours before entering Laos and another test upon arrival.

While waiting for the test results, visitors must quarantine in a designated hotel for 24 hours before getting negative test results.

Areas classified as green zones must have a population that is 70-80 per cent vaccinated, while 90-95 per cent of service providers must also be inoculated.

For travel in green zones, tourists must book hotels that have been approved by LaoSafe as well as show a Covid vaccination certificate.

Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone said last month that the government will invite Lao and foreign tourists who have been fully vaccinated to come to Laos, with a particular focus on visitors from China and South Korea.

It is hoped that the Lao Thiao Lao (Lao Visit Laos) campaign will attract at least 1.9 million domestic visitors and more than 1 million foreign travellers in 2022.

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