A New Brand for Southern Laos

Champassak pristine rural landscape
If Champassak Province in Southern Laos is a bit known from international travellers – thanks to the temple complex of Wat Phu a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rest of South Laos remains so far “terra incognita” for most tourists. Four provinces -Saravanh, Sekong, Attapeu and Champassak-will now be promoted internationally as a single destination for tourism under the brand “Southern Laos, Charming by nature”.

Vientiane Times quoted Champassak deputy governor, Buasone Vongsongkhone, at the launching of the brand. He declared that the “brand launch event is about our identity, about who we are, about what we stand for. The brand reminds us about what we need to treasure and what kind of tourism we want to promote such as a sustainable tourism which is respectful to our culture, to our environment and which helps to share economic benefits amongst all members of the society in Southern Laos.”

The brand was developed in a participatory process over a period of 10 months, facilitated by Switzerland Funding Agency Swisscontact and supported by international branding expertise from the marketing agency QUO, based in Bangkok.

According to Tim Gamper, Country Manager of Swisscontact in Laos, the most important element of the branding process for southern Laos was not its output of a logo and a tagline, but the fact that it brought tourism stakeholders together from the public and private sector, across provincial borders and across business interests.

CEO of QUO Mr David Keen underlined that the brand launching event was just the start of a journey which is likely to contribute significantly to the economic success of the four southern provinces of Laos. But he stressed the importance for local stakeholders to take ownership of the brand and to live it in their day-to-day operations.

A crucial element to make the brand alive and well-know will be of course the visibility and exposure in social media. A website has been created (www.southern-laos.com) filled with highlights on things to do or see, as well as a dedicated section for tourism trade professionals. But participation in travel shows, social media campaigns will be necessary to raise awareness. The use of social media would be the most effective and request limited financial fundings.

According to Tourism Development Department, last year Champasak attracted the most tourist arrivals at 535,413 up 8.56% from 493,180 following by Attapeu 153,846 (+35.97% from 113,151), Saravanh 78,534 (+12.96% from 69,524) and Sekong 26,509 (+17.22% from 25,175). Both Pakse in Champassak and Attapeu have airports opened for international traffic.