New tourism institute in Laos seeks hotel partner

New tourism institute in Laos seeks hotel partner

The Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (LANITH) has launched a global search to identify a private sector investor to partner with it in the development and operation of a unique hotel in Vientiane, Laos.

The institute has a 3,700 sqm riverfront plot in downtown Vientiane that is suitable for a 75-100 room, four-star hotel.

LANITH, a modern, purpose-built teaching facility slated for completion in 2012, is part of a EUR 8.5 million bilateral development project between the Lao and Luxembourg governments to strengthen human resources in Laos’ hospitality and tourism sector.

“This is a unique opportunity for the right partner with strong CSR credentials,” said Peter Semone, Chief Technical Advisor of LANITH.

“The partner will be able to enter the burgeoning Vientiane hotel market, earn a healthy return on investment and do something positive for poverty alleviation and the development of human resources in Laos’ tourism sector,” he said.

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Non-binding registrations of interest are being accepted until 14 January 2011. After that date, short-listed candidates will be required to submit extensive proposals.

Mr Semone said that the Lao government is offering the selected partner exclusive terms including land-use rights for 40 years and special zoning privileges. The hotel’s annual land rental fee will be used to underwrite a portion of LANITH’s operating expenses.

When fully operable, LANITH will accommodate as many as 400 full-time students in its two-year diploma programme. The diploma will prepare graduates for a career in the hospitality and tourism industry. LANITH will also offer a variety of industry training programmes for the existing hospitality workforce in Laos, which is estimated to be 20,000 strong.

Tour companies and hoteliers in Vientiane have expressed the need for more four-star properties in the city. The market is currently dominated by small, family-run guesthouses, and only a few hotels address the middle market.

Vientiane’s Ansara Hotel Director of Sales and Marketing, Laurent Granier, said that the capital is a “mid-market destination, where people go after visiting Thailand or Vietnam…We know what the high-end and backpackers want, but what about the middle? We need more value-for-money hotel properties.”

In Q2 of 2011, LANITH will circulate a detailed investment dossier to those parties that have registered their interest. In the latter half of 2011, up to four parties will be invited to submit formal proposals from which a final selection will be made.

To date, a hand full of registrations of interest by local, regional and international investment groups, operators and developers have been received.

According to the Lao National Tourism Administration, Vientiane welcomed more than 800,000 tourists in 2009, with annual room occupancy rates reaching 63%.