To become a self-funded and independent business unit, providing a range of ecotourism options throughout the Province of Savannakhet.
The Savannakhet Eco-Guide Unit (EGU) was established in 2004 under the management of the Savannakhet Provincial Tourism Office. Together they are playing key roles in the development of a number of eco-tourism projects throughout the province.
It is an important responsibility of both the EGU and the Tourism Department to ensure that any socio-cultural and environmental impacts of these tourism projects are addressed and that the benefits from tourism are widely spread with special emphasis on the poor and marginalised.
The EGU comprises one permanent staff member, an Officer Manager, and up to 10 Eco-Guides, who are engaged on a casual basis throughout the trekking season, which runs from November through to May. (June through to October is the region’s traditional wet season, when flooding rivers make it unsuitable for trekking into many areas.)
The core business of the EGU is guided tours to a number of locations in the province of Savannakhet. The tours vary from one day to five days to the following regions and include both trekking and biking options:
- Dong Na Tad (one, two and three days)
- Dong Phou Vieng (three days)
- Phou Xang Hae (four or five days)
A major aim of the EGU and their tours is to engage the villagers, providing regular income for residents and helping to ensure their long-term economic viability. The two, three and five-day treks include overnight stays in the villages.
The treks provide employment to villagers as guides, and villagers are encouraged to make authentic Lao crafts which can be sold to the trekkers. The villagers also derive income from local foods that are purchased for the trekkers during the homestays.