The spectacular country of Laos has been overshadowed as more prominent destinations in South East Asia attempt to reopen for tourism. Laos, though, has tentatively set in motion its own reopening plan. So, this week, Gary and Hannah tackle developments in the year so far in Laos with Jason Rolan, who is Senior Partner of Vientiane-based RDK Group. Jason was last on the show in November 2020, when Laos was COVID-safe. Since then, infection waves have disrupted the nation's Zero Covid strategy, and brought movement restrictions. That said, Laos remains a case study of successful containment in ASEAN. With international borders still closed, Jason describes some new trends in domestic tourism over recent months, including self-drive trips and Insta-travel. We also assess how the economic slowdown is hampering travel activity. And, of course, we delve into transport infrastructure projects, including the Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway, plus the China-Laos high-speed railway. This inaugural part of China's ambitious pan-ASEAN railway is slated to become operational on 2 December, Laos National Day. Will it start on time, and what benefits could the new train line deliver for inbound travel from China? And how could could super-fast rail travel transform domestic vacations in Laos?
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