Lao People’s Democratic Republic was recognized as the World's Best Tourist Destination for 2013 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT). Tourist arrivals are surging—up 22% on a per annum basis—with last year's estimate at 3.3 million. At present, the tourism sector is the second largest income earner in Lao PDR.
The country received the prestigious citation following its initiatives at preserving culture and history and raising the quality of tourism services. Preservation of the country’s historical, cultural and religious patrimony includes the UNESCO Heritage Sites of Luang Prabang and 12th century Wat Phu, as well as the Plain of Jars from Neolithic civilization and Wat Xieng Thong. Care to quality of tourism embraces a new concept of community-based tourism that is nature friendly. This comprises facilities and safety for tourists, access and investments to sites of historical and cultural significance, and the benefits of tourism to grassroots communities.