On behalf of the Government of Lao PDR, the Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA) is proud to announce that the World Ecotourism and Adventure Conference will be held in charming Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR from 15 – 16 July, 2009.


This innovative conference aims to present modern approaches to sustainable tourism development and management at World Heritage Sites, exchange lessons-learned regarding global best-practice in the ecotourism and community-based tourism sectors and seek solutions to mitigate and reverse negative impacts of tourism such as climate change and environmental degradation. Lao PDR, Asia’s newest and fastest growing tourist destination is well suited to host this event based on its reputation for warm hospitality and wealth of cultural, natural and historic tourism assets including two UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites and a network of 20 National Protected Areas that cover more than 13% of the country. 


The LNTA is pleased to be working with DISCOVERYMICE, Malaysia’s leading tourism event organizer to stage the Conference, and has planned a series of local events including the Lao International Tourism Exhibition and Food Festival to add value to the Conference itinerary.


I would therefore like to kindly encourage both public and private sector participation in the 2009 World Ecotourism and Adventure Conference and look forward to warmly welcoming you to Vientiane next July.   



H.E. Mr. Somphong Mongkhonvilay

Minister, Chairman

Lao National Tourism Administration











H.E. Bountheuang Mounlasy, Lao PDR Ambassador to Malaysia

Mr Soukasuem Bodhisane, Vice-Chairman, Lao National Tourism Administration

Mr Lee Choon Loong, President, DISCOVERYMICE Sdn Bhd

Dato Mohd Khalid, President, Malaysian Ecotourism Association

Distinguished representatives of Lao National Tourism Administration

Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am very honoured to be invited to say a few words on this auspicious MOU signing between DISCOVERYMICE and the Lao National Tourism Administration, marking the collaboration between the Lao Government and the Malaysian private sector in hosting the 2nd World Ecotourism & Adventure Conference 2009 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Indeed the scheduling of this World Conference in 2009 is very timely given that the world’s current attention is on sustainable development, climate change, environmental protection as well as international tourism.

In 2002, the International Year of Ecotourism was declared by the United Nations General Assembly namely to generate greater awareness among public and private sectors and the community regarding eco-tourism, disseminate methods and techniques for the planning, management and monitoring of eco-tourism, and promote the exchange of experience in this field.

The long term forecasts of UNWTO stands at more than one billion international tourist arrivals in 2010, and more then 1.5 billion in 2020 as compared to  900 million in 2007.


This monumental growth in tourism will inevitably put strain on the environment, tourism sites, monuments, infrastructure and host communities and should lead us to continue to think in terms of environmental, social and cultural impact, and to act in terms of the sustainable development of this activity.


Ecotourism can be defined as “all forms of tourism in which the tourists’ main motivation is the observation and appreciation of nature, that contribute to the conservation of, and that generate minimal impacts on the natural environment and cultural heritage”.


It is crucial to the challenges of developing a balanced, sustainable and responsible tourism sector that the all stakeholders in tourist-receiving countries particularly the trade, government, NGOs and academia in developing countries to meet, explore, share and collaborate on a regular basis to address current issues and a changing future due to the realities of climate change and ever changing international travel patterns.


It is enlightening to note that ecotourism brings out the best of best in tourism, such as its capacity to create economic activities in growth regions, and yet retain the traditional livelihoods and culture of the local communities as well as encouraging the preservation of natural resources and cultural identity. What’s important is that such activities create jobs in the poorest regions where there are no other alternatives other than farming. These opportunities for the young reduces forced emigration of young people to congested urban areas and these activities by the younger generation is targetted at the growing youth travel market around the world.


As for the environment, ecotourism provides resources that make it possible to conserve sites, maintain nature reserves and protected areas, as well as to safeguard biodiversity. It also raises the awareness of tourists and local populations with regard to respecting the environment and cultural diversity.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Most developing countries in the Mekong Region, the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), the Brunei-Malaysia-Indonesia-Philippines Growth region (BIMP-EAGA) as well as the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle (IMS-GT)  is highly dependent on natural resources for economic and social development. There is increasing strain on urban and rural environments and biodiversity due to economic expansion, population growth and non-sustainable environmental practices. And in recent years, natural calamities, particularly floods, tsunamis and cyclones pose considerable threats to long-term sustainable development and tourism.


Lao PDR’s ultimate development goal to graduate from the status of Least Developed Country by the year 2020 through sustainable and equitable development is applauded by UNWTO. I understand that Lao PDR aims to generate increased foreign revenue, primarily through the development of the tourism sector by improving tourism infrastructure, developing tourist routes in each region and facilitating entry into Lao PDR through ports-of-entry, border points and transit posts transforming itself from a “landlocked” to a “landlinked” country. There have been efforts to increase community involvement in rural tourism and ecotourism, integrating public and private sector activities. However there are internal challenges particularly in capacity and institutional building as well as human resource development.


Through Lao PDR’s active membership in UNWTO as well as in ASEAN and GMS, there is strong determination to become an active participant in the region and gradually in the world economy. The increased national and regional development interface through regional cooperation between public sectors and between public and private sectors will help to narrow the gap between Lao PDR and other countries of the region.


This MOU signing between Lao National Tourism Administration and a Malaysian company, DISCOVERYMICE to host the World Ecotourism & Adventure Conference 2009 reflects Lao PDR’s continuing open door policies to embrace regional and global opportunities to deepen external social-economic engagements, strengthen international ties and partnerships and develop international tourism networks and links.


Hence on behalf of UNWTO, I congratulate DISCOVERYMICE and LNTA for entering into this smart partnership and paving an international platform for the industry and the Governments to discuss new paradigms for sustainable and responsible ecotourism in economic growth regions.  


In conjunction with the World Ecotourism & Adventure Conference, I look forward to have a UNWTO sponsored meeting with the Governments in the Asia Pacific region to deliberate on specific tourism programmes that will derive specific benefits to this region of monumental growth.


Thank you.









H.E. Datuk Dr Victor Wee, Chairman, UNWTO Programme Committee

H.E. Dr Bountheuang Mounlasy, Lao Ambassador to Malaysia

Mr. Lee Choon Loong,  President/CEO, DISCOVERYMICE, Malaysia

Distinguished event sponsors from the public and private sector and media representatives

Ladies and gentlemen


On behalf of the Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA), we would like to thank our gracious hosts here in Malaysia for the warm reception you have extended to our delegation from the Lao PDR as well as commend you on the superb organization of this MOU Signing Ceremony for the 2009 World Ecotourism and Adventure Conference. This innovative conference will take place in Vientiane, the Capital of Lao PDR from 15 – 17 July 2009. Officially hosted by the LNTA, we are happy to affirm today that the official event organizer selected to assist the LNTA stage the Conference is the Malaysia-based firm, DISCOVERYMICE.

As many of you here today know, investment and cooperation between Lao PDR and Malaysia is rising every year in the tourism and agriculture sectors, and the 2009 World Ecotourism and Adventure Conference will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the benefits of this cooperation to the world. In 2007, Air Asia pioneered the first ever direct air service between Vientiane and Malaysia which has helped to boost the number of ASEAN nationals visiting both countries, as well as stimulated international tour operators to develop new tour circuits in the region. Local events sponsored by Tourism Malaysia and private sector investment from Malaysia have proven to be mutually beneficial in terms of generating economic benefits and raising the profile of sustainable tourism.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

International arrivals to Lao PDR over the past decade have grown by more than 25% on average each year, and in 2007 visitation jumped by 34%, the highest growth rate of any country in Asia. Blessed with a wealth of natural, cultural and historic attractions, Lao PDR has emerged as a popular new tourist destination in the region, with much to offer the discerning traveler interested in culture and nature based tourism activities.


We have a network of 20 National Protected Areas containing rare wildlife and plant species that covers 13% of the country, pristine monsoon forests, mountains, caves, rivers and a hospitable population of 49 officially recognized ethnic groups.


At present there are two sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List - the Ancient City of Luang Prabang and the Vat Phou/Champasak Cultural Landscape, with the enigmatic Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang expected to ascend to World Heritage Status by the end of this decade. International standard accommodations, food, and tour services are available at excellent value in the main tourism centers of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Champasak, Savannakhet and Xieng Khouang.


For those wanting an off the beaten path adventure, world-class ecolodges await you in Luang Namtha, Champasak and Khammouane. With the strong support of the Lao Government and collaboration with the international community on events such as the 2009 World Ecotourism and Adventure Conference, the LNTA plans to continue pursuing sustainable tourism development policies that make measurable contributions to poverty alleviation, support natural and cultural heritage protection and promote international peace and friendship. 


We therefore take great pride and pleasure in inviting ecotourism and adventure travel enthusiasts from around the world to attend the 2009 World Ecotourism and Adventure Conference to learn about modern approaches to sustainable tourism development and management at World Heritage Sites, exchange lessons-learned regarding global best-practice in the ecotourism and community-based tourism sectors and seek solutions to mitigate and reverse negative impacts of tourism such as climate change and environmental degradation. We also invite you to stay beyond the Conference to participate in technical tours, join the Lao International Tourism Exhibition and Food Fair planned for the 17 – 19 July, or just relax and enjoy the peace, tranquility and nature that Laos is renowned for. 


In closing, we again thank you for attending this MOU signing ceremony today and look forward to welcoming you in Vientiane next July.


Thank you.








H.E. Datuk Dr Victor Wee, Chairman, UNWTO Programme Committee

H.E. Dr Bountheuang Mounlasy, Lao Ambassador to Malaysia

H.E Mr Soukaseum Bodhisane, Vice Chairman of Lao National Tourism Administration

Mr Thavipheth Oula, Director General of Lao National Tourism Administration

Dato Mohd Khalid, President, Malaysian Ecotourism Association

Distinguished sponsors and supporters from the private sector

Distinguished members of the Media

Ladies and gentlemen


Let me first extend a warm welcome to Mr Soukaseum Bodhisane and members of the Lao National Tourism Administration delegation who are here specifically for the MOU signing ceremony. We hope that you enjoy your stay in Kuala Lumpur and be awed by the sight from your room, the Twin Towers which is one of the tallest building in the world.


We are gathered here today to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation in organizing and hosting the World Ecotourism & Adventure Conference 2009 in Vientiane Lao PDR from 15th to 17th July 2009. The signing of this MOU signifies a concrete step in fostering closer co-operation between Laos and Malaysia.

Ecotourism has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry growing annually 10-15% worldwide. One definition of ecotourism is “the practice of low-impact, educational, ecologically and culturally sensitive travel that benefits local communities and host countries”. In this context, Lao PDR is a shining example of ecotourism practices at its best and hence the ideal venue for a world ecotourism conference .


The objectives of hosting an ecotourism conference of such magnitude are:-


1. To create greater awareness among both the public and private sectors of current ecotourism developments and successes, and especially showcase new ecotourism products in developing and least developed countries.


2. To provide a platform for public and private sector members of every continent to meet every year to discuss common interests and to synergise its development and marketing efforts to cross promote ecotourism destinations on a win-win basis.


3. To further develop ecotourism products, body of knowledge and expertise, both by the public and private sectors for the purpose of using these as a tool for competitive advantage and advancement of the industry.


For more information on the Conference, you may log into:

Under the MOU, we and our partners, LNTA are confident that the initiative of the Government of Lao PDR with regards to the hosting of the Conference constitutes an important and strategic step in promoting Lao PDR as a leader in ecotourism and adventure tourism as well as promoting Lao PDR as a preferred destination and venue for major tourism conferences.


We have also acknowledged our common interest in establishing a lasting framework for tourism cooperation in the area of developing and building capacity for the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions sector in Lao PDR.


Under the ASEAN spirit, we are encouraged to explore the opportunities for entering into similar co-operation with other countries particularly in the Mekong region.

Of international significance during the World Conference is the call to form the Asia Pacific Ecotourism Society (APES), a coalition of ecotourism organizations and associations in the Asia Pacific region whose objectives among others are to re-define ecotourism practices in the Asian context and develop endogenous standards that are not dictated by developed countries.


We are noted for our expertise in producing tourism conferences as well as networking excellence in the region. I therefore firmly believe that co-operation between DISCOVERYMICE and Lao PDR will help to advance our mutual interests in the fast growing ecotourism industry in the Asia Pacific region.


I am confident that with our concerted efforts, the MOU that we are about to sign will deliver the benefits it promises. My colleagues and I look forward to working closely with our Lao counterparts not only in producing the World Ecotourism & Adventure Conference but also in the years to come.


Last but not least, we take this opportunity to thank the Lao Government for their confidence in us and together we spare no efforts to make the event a successful one for the region and the world.


Thank you.


 Lao National Touirsm Administration 

Lao Association of Travel Agents

 Lao Hotel & Restaurant Association

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism

  Host and Organisers      

Supporting Government Agencies


Supporting International Organisations                      

Official Airline


Official International Airline



Supporting International Airlines

 Supporting Airline Partners

Supporting International Hospitality & Travel Partners


 Supporting International Travel Partners


Supporting Media Partners


Supporting International Travel Partners

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