Laos will become a world renowned destination specializing in all forms of sustainable tourism that, through partnership and cooperation, will benefit natural and cultural heritage conservation, local socio-economic development, and spread knowledge of Laos' uniqueness around the world.

 The Lao PDR (Laos) and international stakeholders are working continuously towards realizing this vision. We invite you to visit this beautiful country and experience for yourself the splendid biodiversity and cultural heritage that makes this country so special, so unique.

Laos has a low population density, diverse ethnic lifestyles and traditions and perhaps the richest, most extensive network of ecosystems on the Indochina Peninsula. More than 800 species of birds and 100-plus large mammals have been identified with new species being discovered every year. Some of the better-known species are tigers, clouded leopards, douc langur, gibbons, the Irrawaddy dolphin, hornbills, peafowls, ibis, crested Argus and silver pheasants.

In place to protect and conserve these irreplaceable resources is a network of 20 National Protected Areas (NPA), often cited as one of the best designed Protected Area Systems in the world.

In addition to the country's vast protected forests and aquatic resources, Laos has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the ancient city of Luang Prabang and the pre-Angkorian Vat Phou temple complex. There is also the mysterious Plain of Jars, a soon to be nominated World Heritage Site that is of significant archaeological, historical and natural value.

Eager to position Laos as a premier ecotourism destination, the Lao National Tourism Administration, related government agencies and the private sector are working hard to realize the ambitious vision put forth in the country's National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan.  Enshrined in this plan are the following principles:

Guiding Principles of Lao Ecotourism

    • Decrease environmental and cultural impacts.
    • Increase awareness of the importance of ethnic groups and biological diversity.
    • Promote responsible business practices, which cooperate closely with local authorities and the local people to support poverty alleviation and deliver conservation benefits.
    • Provide a source of income to conserve, sustain and manage the Lao protected area network and cultural heritage sites.
    • Emphasize the need for tourism zoning and management plans for sites that will be developed as ecotourism destinations.
    • Use environmental and social baseline data, as well as long-term monitoring programs, to assess and minimize negative impacts.
    • Maximize the benefits for the Lao national economy, especially local businesses and people living in and around the protected areas.
    • Ensure that tourism does not exceed the country's social and economic limits as determined by researchers working in conjunction with local residents.
    • Promote local architectural styles that were developed in harmony with Lao culture and environment, using local materials, and minimize energy consumption. Conserve the flora and fauna, native to the Lao PDR.

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