Unsustainable tourism causes deterioration of the environmental, social, and cultural heritage of Laos. Particularly Luang Prabang as a UNESCO world heritage site is in danger and needs a more sustainable tourism. The project seeks to cultivate sustainable tourism products in a fragile destination.

(c) Cyril Eberle, GIZ Laos

Sector of activity
Tourism

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Policy Frameworks & Tools, Research, Analysis, Assessment

Type of lead actors
United Nations / intergovernmental organizations, Government / public sector

Budget
1800000 US$

Start date
01/05/2016

End date
01/04/2019

Objectives

Luang Prabang has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995 and has become the main tourism destination in Lao PDR. However, it does not only welcome an increasing number of foreign visitors. It also suffers from the "ecological footprint" of tourism. Uncontrolled tourism development may result in congestion, increased pollution, the deterioration of destinations and thus lead to irreversible damage to the country's unique natural and cultural resources.

"Luang Prabang - Handle with Care" targets an increased provision and consumption of sustainable tourism products to preserve the destination with regard to
1) the assurance of private sector uptake and benefit,
2) the responsible utilization of natural resources, and
3) the protection of cultural heritage, minorities and inclusive economic participation.

Activities

The project aims to increase local capacities to implement responsible activities related to socio-cultural, environmental and economic sustainability. It assists the private tourism sector in Luang Prabang to develop and apply new sustainable tourism products. The adaptation of ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Standards to local conditions and their application is another field of the initiative. Finally, the project improves the awareness of sustainable practices, strengthens their use by (mass) tourists and promotes Luang Prabang as a sustainable tourism destination.

Impact and Results

The EU Switch Asia Luang Prabang Handle with Care Project result highlights are:
* Improved energy efficiency, water usage and waste management at ca. 70 hotels, guest-houses and restaurants by innovating business processes, establishing sustainable practices and nudging consumers to more sustainable consumption choices.
* Over 30 new handicraft products that create more value for local producers, tailors and self-employed retailers are produced locally and marketed with the Hand-Made in Luang Prabang label, thus increasing economic inclusiveness of tourism for the host community.
* ASEAN Tourism Standards have been implemented in Lao PDR improving the quality infrastructure.
* Cultural rules and regulations for responsible tourism have been improved with public and private sector stakeholders. Tourists have been engaged with a campaign "Be A Mindful Traveller"



Next steps and how to get involved

This initiative now coming to an end (4.2019), however the GIZ RELATED project continues to work on a number of issues. An interactive learning platform is available managed by the SME Service Centre of the Luang Prabang Chamber of Commerce and Industry after 4.2019.