Phonesavanh Sangsomboun,Vientiane Times,Publication Date: 18-02-2010
The world heritage listed town of Luang Prabang has returned to the top of a list of best tourist destinations as polled by Wanderlust travel magazine.
The magazine announces its Wanderlust Travel Awards annually.
This year Luang Prabang received first place with a score of 94.74 per cent, followed by Siena, Italy , with 94.67 per cent and Berlin , Germany , with 94.15 per cent.
Last year’s top ranked city, Kyoto , Japan, came in fifth with 93.33 per cent.
Luang Prabang won the title from 2006 to 2008 before falling to seventh in 2009 because the city could not maintain its beauty, attractiveness and cleanliness, said deputy head of the Luang Prabang provincial tourism department, Khamtan Somphanvilay.
“We were voted back as number one this year because the relevant sectors actively worked together to address the issues raised by Unesco relating to the town’s heritage areas and conservation,” he said. This year’s award was for the period December 2008 to November 2009 and was decided by visitors to each town over that period.
In most categories, readers of the magazine were asked to list up to four entries and score each one on its merits.
The final positions are based on an average score for the entry (converted to a percentage) – so the results are based on merit rather than the number of votes received.
“To be the winner is not easy, but to maintain top ranking is even more difficult so the various sectors have to formulate long-term development and conservation plans,” Mr Khamtan said.
To maintain the ranking, the bodies involved will increase cooperation efforts.
The awards will be officially presented on March 14, but the department has asked that the date be postponed to March 15 to allow it to prepare and make public announcements.
The award will again feature in the annual Lao New Year parade, to be held in Luang Prabang in April.
Luang Prabang was granted world heritage status by Unesco in 1995. The town is the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang , or the land of a million elephants.
Luang Prabang is a cultural centre in the region, with its numerous temples a testimony to a wealth of culture and civilisation.