|The eighth meeting of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) culture ministers got underway in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Thursday to promote the role of culture in socio-economic development and international relations.
The two-day meeting, under the theme “The Role of Culture in International Relations: The Road Forward”, brought together high-level representatives from the two continents.
The Lao delegation was led by Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Savankhone Razmountry.
European Union (EU) Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, spoke highly of the important role played by culture.
“The choice of this year’s topic is very timely. In our complex world, we need the stabilising and inclusive power of culture perhaps more than ever,” he was quoted as saying by Xinhua at the opening ceremony.
Bulgaria’s Minister of Culture Boil Banov said culture and cultural diplomacy have been playing an important role in enhancing understanding and closer links between European and Asian partners, according to Xinhua.
In his speech, Mr Savankhone said culture plays an important role in the process of national socio-economic development and international relations.
“The development of communities cannot be a success if one neglects one’s own valuable culture. Culture is the fundamental basis for establishing and maintaining a lasting friendly relationship,” he said.
The Lao deputy minister added that culture can be more meaningful in day-to-day living and cannot be separated from human activity.
“As culture is related to economic opportunities, the culture sector offers the opportunity to develop intrinsically local, place-based jobs that foster a connection with and respect for people-to-people links, and the environment,” he said.
He told the meeting that Laos has two culture-related World Heritage Sites – the old town of Luang Prabang, an ancient royal city of the Lane Xang Kingdom since the 14th century, and Vat Phou temple in Champassak province, a pre-Angkor period complex built in the 12th century.
The sites have been significant in attracting foreign tourists and driving national economic development.
Laos is also home to the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province and other places of historic and cultural interest such as Ho Pha Keo, Vat Sisaket, Vat (temple) Simeuang, Vat Ongteu, and the That Luang temple in Vientiane, as well as Sikhottabong Stupa in Khammuan province and That Ing Hang in Savannakhet province, all of which attract international visitors.
In addition, the music of the khaen, a Lao instrument, has been declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Mr Savankhone told the meeting that the Lao government launched Visit Laos Year 2018 in November last year and is advertising in all Lao media outlets, CNN, and the International Biz News magazine of Europe.
“We hope to welcome more tourists from European and other countries throughout this special year,” he said.
Activities prepared for Visit Laos Year 2018 comprise events to be conducted in Laos and other countries, including Lao Night at the ATF 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand; a Cocktail Party at ITB Berlin 2018 in Germany; participation in the SMT Tourism Exhibition in Paris, France; Lao Night at the Lao Festival in Tokyo, Japan; Lao Night at the ITE HCM in Vietnam; and participation in the international tourism exhibition, WTM London, United Kingdom. / Vientiane Times / By Times Reporters / (Latest Update March 3, 2018) /
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