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Lao PM advises special economic zone operators to prepare for tourism boom

VIENTIANE, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone has instructed operators of the Boten Special Economic Zone in northern Laos' Luang Namtha province to organize tourism activities in preparation for Laos' chairmanship of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Visit Laos Year in 2024.

Sonexay visited the Boten Special Economic Zone in northern Laos bordering China on Sept. 21 to inspect the management of the Boten International Checkpoint between Laos and China and learn about the overall development of the zone, local daily Lao Security News reported on Tuesday.

The zone, some 390 km north of the Lao capital Vientiane, borders Mohan in southwest China's Yunnan province, and is part of the rapidly growing economic cooperation between Laos and China.

Infrastructure in the zone should be improved and tourism-related activities devised, said Sonexay.

Facilities at the border crossing comprise an immigration building and booths, a section for the entry of trucks and privately-owned cars, a goods checkpoint, and immigration facilities for passengers on the China-Laos Railway.

In 2023, the Lao government made tourism a top priority in efforts to revitalize the economy.

The number of Chinese tourists to Laos has gradually increased since the beginning of this year.

As the China-Laos Railway serves as a crucial tourism infrastructure, the Lao authorities estimate that around 368,000 Chinese travelers will visit Laos in 2023, up 21 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, the Visit Laos Year 2024 tourism promotion campaign will be launched in November, aiming to attract at least 4.6 million foreign and Lao tourists in 2024.