SPEECH BY H.E. PROFESSOR DR. ANTON CARAGEA-PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON TOURISM AND TRADE
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 9 May 2013
Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister of Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao,
Your Excellency`s distinguish members of Government of Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao
Distinguish guests ,
We have all gather here to pay homage to an idea and to a country that embodies this idea.
The idea is encompass in the simple truth that: in XXI century tourism has become a bridge towards knowledge and friendship between peoples and countries , a way to promote peace and understanding , a road that leads towards a better future.
We have also gather here to express our appreciation for a country and a people that will embody in 2013 this triumphant spirit of tourism: the people of Lao.
I must re-emphasize that: tourism is in the XXI century, not only a way to enjoy life, to discover new places, new cultures but also a mass phenomenon that combines sightseeing, recreation and health care.
Tourism has become, in the world today, an intrinsic value of human life and experience and what I like to call a natural right of all people: the right to move freely, to express freely and to enjoy a life of adventure and discoveries.
Undoubtedly, for a country tourism is a constant and serious source of revenue, is becoming an important factor to promote development, to build roads, to offer to people a source of income and employment, a source of prosperity.
But, material significance of tourism must not elapse the true value of tourism: as a way for people`s to build bridges of friendship and tolerance , to discover different cultures, ideas and way`s of life, to embrace the beauty of being different .
We must also clearly mark that: tourism must be based on a set of values such as nature preservation, cultural and historical patrimony conservation for future generation and exactly for this need we have carved WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD as an international recognition for the country`s that are respecting this values .
I must say what a privilege is for our delegation to honor a country that is becoming a WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION.
It is also a great pleasure to address our salute to the great people of Lao, a people that had build throughout centuries a perfect civilization, with hundreds of monuments of historical and civilization relevance ,a people that had offered to humanity countless riches: from religious temple and scriptures to literary texts and historical writings .
Today, Lao had become a cultural and touristic world power and the main credit belongs, without a doubt, to the great people of Laos, that from 1975 onwards is constructing a life of dignity, liberty and tolerance in a free country.
Today, in a world that rarely accepts and tolerates difference, we come to honor a country of TOLERANCE, in a world crowded with pseudo-culture, without a form and substance , we come today to honor a TRUE CULTURE , in a world that is loosing the true values, we come today the honor a real TOURISTIC VALUE, in a time in which to many speak and do not act for historical sites preservation , we come to honor a PARADISE OF HISTORY , we come to honor the People`s Democratic Republic of LAO .
Here, we have all gather to show our support for the values of humanity, of educational and cultural tourism . We are all here in the search for a country that offer to tourists a complete experience , a country that educates spirit, elevates soul and gives everybody a lesson in history and culture.
We all have found in LAO the perfect teacher in tourism, offering to all the tourist`s of the world the possibility of a safe, pleasurable and enlightening tourist experience.
Among the reasons leading to awarding WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2013 title to PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS our report had taken under consideration:
– The preservation of an outstanding historical and cultural patrimony that comprises wonderful sites such as: Wat Phu- a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 12th century, the remarkable site from Plain of Jars, offering an insight into Neolithic civilization and a rare window into traditions of centuries.
A name that needs no introduction: the UNESCO heritage site of Luang Prabang, with the gems of Haw Kham and Vat Xieng Toung monastery.
I could continue for hours this list of treasures, but I will enumerate just in Vientiane- Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple of the city and the world famous That Luang complex.
Today, Lao is offering an open air museum, a rare collection of historical and archeological treasures that educate and enrich the world.
– The preservation of religious sites of world significance and value such as: Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important of world Buddhism monasteries and remains a significant place for the spirit of religion and traditional art. Other sites that must be mentioned such as: Wat Phu ( UNESCO heritage site) and Champasak Cultural Landscape ( under UNESCO recognition).
Keeping alive spiritual tradition, integrating tourist`s and visitors in the atmosphere of the Lao people, offering possibility for an enriching cultural experience, are all achievements that transform Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO in a spiritual destination of first hand.
– Promoting a new concept of community based tourism, friendly to nature, with low ecological impact and preservation of natural biodiversity and protection of endangered species and areas, especially rainforest eco-climate.
Community based ecotourism is a way to share revenues and income, to support rural communities in prospering and presenting there foodstuff and handicrafts to the world and to make the base for an economic local development. Sharing tourism benefits to all the population, offering a social tourism it is a lesson that Lao is offering to the world.
Supporting Lao community tourism project as a way to spread wealth, it is a duty for everybody and one of the main reason for portraying Laos as a world example of democratic tourism , a tourism that is not only offering benefits to the rich, but to all people. Lao example must be appreciated and supported , and all tourist that are going to Lao must know that an investment in Lao tourism is an investment in the future of Lao people.
– Offering to tourists not only a historical and outstanding cultural experience but also the possibility to explore nature , to contribute to ecological preservation and the opportunity to visit extraordinary space such as: Nam Ngum reservoir , Bolaven plateau, Mekong river islands , Mekong river boat trip , Tad Kouangsi waterfall , the cave of de Ting . All this are model of achievements in ecological and green tourism that must be world recognized .
– The continuous development and protection of cultural and historical patrimony of Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO, the transformation of Vientiane in a historical and spiritual center offering to the visitor a glimpse into rich culture and heritage of peoples of Lao.
For all this reasons, among many others, European Council on Tourism and Trade decided, unanimously, to award WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2013 title to PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS and to declare PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS- FAVORITE CULTURAL DESTINATION in 2013.
This title is an international recognition of Your work for Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO until today, in the service of history and civilization, tourism and culture , in the service of the people of LAO, but is also a challenge because now we are expecting your services in the future benefit of the world culture and tourism.
May this award be transformed in a support for developing the international standing of Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO , for a sustainable tourism and development and in a base for further success for SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL – Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO .
Is my privileged to award Your Excellency, as representative of tourism of PEOPLE`S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF LAOS the award for WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2013 .
We congratulate You and people of Peoples Democratic Republic of LAO for this outstanding achievements.