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IMPACT: Alleviating poverty and protecting cultural and natural heritage through community based ecotourism in Luang Namtha, Lao PDR


The tremendous growth in the Lao tourism sector since the mid-1990’s, especially tourism centered on visitation and enjoyment of the Lao PDR’s distinct and precious cultural and natural heritage has presented the country with a number of challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, tourism is generating significant foreign exchange earnings and fueling local investment in tourism related services and infrastructure, creating jobs, and providing ordinary Lao citizens with an opportunity to interact with foreign visitors on a scale that was previously impossible. On the other hand, partly because of the low national capacity to plan for and manage tourism’s negative environmental and socio-cultural impacts, the resources underpinning the national tourism industry are in danger of being irrevocably damaged.

This publication assesses the methodologies developed through the Nam Ha Ecotourism Project developed by UNESCO in collaboration with the Government of Lao PDR and the financial participation of the New Zealand International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID) in the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) in Luang Namtha province. The publication will prove useful to those involved in both the private and public sectors in the fields of ecotourism, heritage conservation and socio-economic development, and will inspire future initiatives aimed at protecting heritage resources and empowering vulnerable communities in our region and beyond.

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Luang Namtha (Click images to enlarge)