The award of the Asean Community Based Tourism Standard to the community of Konglor village in Khounkham district, Khammuan province, is expected to boost tourism in the area and bring several benefits to local residents.
The village is well known for the huge Konglor Cave, a popular tourist destination. The amazing cave is about 7.5 km long and 80 to 100 metres wide, connecting Konglor and Natan villages.
President of the Konglor-Natan Eco-Tourism Association, Mr Saly Thongsavanh, said yesterday that every aspect of tourism in the area is administrated by local people.
Local groups organise cave tours, biking, tubing, kayaking and trekking. They are also involved in running vegetable plantations, guesthouses, and home- stays.
On September 29, the association organised a ceremony at Konglor to receive the Asean standard from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The standard was awarded earlier this year at the Asean Tourism Forum 2017 held in Singapore.
The award was presented by the ministry’s Office Head, Mr Vansy Kuamua, to the Association’s President, Mr Saly Thongsavanh.
Mr Saly said village authorities organised some activities in acknowledgement of the award, including traditional performances.
The title reflects the strong participation of the community in developing and maintaining quality tourism services that are in line with regional standards.
After Konglor Cave was opened to tourists in 2002, Konglor village authorities began community-based tourism schemes four years later, which directly benefited local people in many ways.
Laos also submitted Nongluang village in Pakxong district, Champassak province, for selection but only Konglor fulfilled the eight criteria of the Asean standard.
These criteria are: ownership and management by the community, contribution to society, participation in environmental protection, exchanges between tourists and local community, quality of tourism and guide standards, food and drink safety, standard of accommodation, and quality standards for tour operators, according to the ministry’s Tourism Development Department.
Mr Saly, who is also Konglor village chief, said the association is carrying out a study on new tourism activities and ways to improve the quality of existing services.
Planned activities include the installation of a cable connecting tree to tree in the National Protected Area and kayaking from Natan village through Konglor cave to Konglor village.
The association also aims to improve the quality of handicrafts that are sold to tourists.
Konglor village is home to 234 households and Natan village has 60 households.
According to the village authorities, from September last year to September 2017, more than 17,500 people visited the cave, while more than 120,000 tourists visited the site in 2006 and 2017.
Courtesy: By Khmer Times – Reporters (Latest Update October 3, 2017)
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