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Mekong Tourism Office

Mekong applauds PATA grant to Laos war time caves

A collection of caves in Laos which provided shelter to 23,000 Laotians during nine years of aerial bombardment in the Indochina War, are to receive funding from the PATA Foundation grant in 2007. The…

A collection of caves in Laos which provided shelter to 23,000 Laotians during nine years of aerial bombardment in the Indochina War, are to receive funding from the PATA Foundation grant in 2007. The initiative has been welcomed by the Mekong Tourism Office (MTO) as the grant will be awarded to the Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Tour Cave Office to fund the research and development of an audio tour and related promotional material on the ‘Viengxay Story’ into three languages – Lao, Vietnamese and English.



“The Mekong Tourism Office is very happy to see this financial support coming from the donor parties. It will prove invaluable to developing what is an important tourist site and the livelihoods of local residents in the area” said MTO executive director Stephen Yong.



PATA members the Netherlands Development Agency (SNV) and the Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA) aim to develop the caves as both a tourist destination and a ‘world peace site’ focusing on poverty reduction and the needs of local people. The caves are located in Viengxay district in Laos’ northeast in Houaphanh, the poorest province in Laos, where 40% of the population survives on less than US$1 per day. Locally, tourism is now being heralded as a vital tool in the fight against poverty.



The area’s development is supported by the Laotian government. The Prime Minister`s office has a permanent representative on the committee set up to oversee developments at Viengxay, the physical birthplace and spiritual cornerstone of modern-day Laos. The LNTA is promising an enriching and educational experience to those who visit the ‘cave city’ and plans for its development are set to be unveiled at the Lao Ecotourism Fair July 26-29 in Vientiane.



The 480 caves in Viengxay are those which were transformed into a de facto cave city when Laos – between 1964 and 1973 – became caught up in a secret war which remains largely ignored in world history. They were used to house leaders and fighters of the Phathet Lao army.

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