"Laos – one of the top tourist destinations," this phrase has been printed in several magazines and newspapers throughout the United Sates lately. Indeed, Laos has become a well-known destination for many tourists around the globe. Ever since it opened its door to the world in 1986, many foreign and overseas Laotian businessmen have looked to Laos, a tiny communist country, in search of investment opportunities. Once it became a member of the ASEAN grouping, Laos opened its door even wider to the world, especially fellow ASEAN members. The tourism industry is a big boom in Laos, resulting in a high demand for lodging and services to accommodate the ever increasing number of tourists. Hotels and guesthouses are popping up everywhere in cities that are popular tourist sites. Laos has a lot to offer to the world for being the most unspoiled country in the region, in term of nature and other amenities.
The Banyan Tree Inc. is a Singaporean hotel chain that operates hotels around the world, including Angsana Maison Souvannaphoum in Luang Prabang. Singaporean Richard Neo has been manager of Maison Souvannaphoum for the past two years. Interviewed by VOA while vacationing in Washington DC last month, Richard talked about how he ended up in Laos.
"I heard from many of my friends about how beautiful and charming the royal ancient city of Luang Prabang is. And once I came to this place, I immediately fell for this rustique, charming and magical city of the bygone era, especially its people. They are so friendly, polite and always willing to help. I felt like at home."
How does he feel about being a member of the younger generation working in such a rustic and ancient place like Luang Prabang? Richard said "Well, I think it's a balance act, if I were to put it, in trying to foster and bridge the gap between the older and younger generations. We, the younger generation, are willing to bring new ideas to this already enchanted city of Luang Prabang…like Maison Souvannaphoum for example. I want to incorporate new ideas and provide better services for the visitors who come to Luang Prabang. Further more, I also want to maintain and preserve the harmony of its unique character and beauty. And that's a reason why we keep its old name, Maison Souvannaphoum, which means the residence of the late Prince Souvannaphoumma, to honor him."
the interview, Richard said that he wouldn't want Luang Prabang to change a
bit. He wanted it to stay the same always. "Why would you want to change Luang
Prabang to make it become like any other big metropolitan city around the world?
Why is Luang Prabang special and different from other cities in the world?
Because it's magical in its own way, besides being a world heritage site.
There's no place like it, and it doesn't look like anywhere else in the world.
Of course I want every one to come and visit Luang Prabang, to witness the
ancient temples, beautiful scenery, waterfalls and the way of life of its
Richard has extended his tour of duty in Luang Prabang for another two years and is planning to expand the hotel he ia managing to accommodate more people who will keep coming to Luang Prabang in the future.
For addition information please go to www.coloursofangsana.com/
Listen to our interview with Richard Neo in Lao by clicking on our audio files.