Consider opening up medicinal plant gardens to tourists

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Lao people are celebrating Visit Laos Year 2018 by highlighting the country's many hidden tourist attractions and cultural activities throughout the country.  

As Laos raises its profile, more people from around Laos and other countries are exploring the country’s scenic, historical and cultural sites.

In addition to Laos' history and beauty, there are other places that are of interest to visitors which the authorities have not yet considered or recognised the full benefits of, such as medicinal plant gardens.

Earlier this month the Institute of Traditional Medicine under the Ministry of Health marked National Arbor Day by planting medicinal plants at the Medicinal Plants Cultivation and Animals Breeding Centre in Samsa-ard village, Xaythany district, Vientiane.

The centre, which was set up 20 years ago, covers six hectares and has more than 400 kinds of medicinal plants.

The main objective of the centre is to preserve the use of medicinal plants for curative purposes to supplement modern medicine and to prevent the extinction of certain traditional medicinal species.

The centre is also a place for students to learn about medicinal plants and how to use them for treatment.

The writer agrees with these concepts. But the centre could also benefit by opening up to ordinary members of the public.

If the centre were opened to the public and visitors were encouraged, it would provide tourists with a unique insight into this aspect of Lao life. Visitors would be able to learn how these plants are used in treating certain illnesses and diseases.

In conclusion, the centre could operate a pilot scheme and start by opening up to small numbers of visitors. The garden in Samsa-ard village is suitable for tourists as it's only 25km from the centre of Vientiane.

 If the pilot scheme were successful, the project could be extended to other medicinal plant gardens around the country. There are now more than 4,000 hectares of medical plant gardens, located in 14 provinces.

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