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Kunming, Luang Prabang connected by new air link

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Lao Airlines launched a new route connecting Kunming with UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang on Saturday with an eye on the outbound Chinese tourism market, according to Chinese media reports.

Last year Luang Prabang province was visited by nearly 200,000 international visitors who contributed roughly US$80 million to the local economy, according to reports citing a Luang Prabang tourism official. The province and its ancient capital are expecting half a million tourists per year by 2010. Lao Airlines currently also operates four flights each week between the country's capital Vientiane and Kunming.

Although tourists are a primary reason for the new Kunming-Luang Prabang route, the growing importance of economic ties between Laos and China – especially Yunnan – should not be overlooked.

An example of this growing relationship is the announcement last week that Yunnan Copper Mining, Yunnan's second-'strongest' company according to recent rankings by the Yunnan Provincial Enterprise Association, will invest US$5 million in the construction of a five-star hotel in Luang Prabang province. Construction is scheduled to commence in August of this year.

Update: According to the Kunming office of Lao Airlines, the new Kunming-Luang Prabang route operates on Mondays and Fridays: The Kunming - Luang Prabang flight departs at 20:10 Beijing time and arrives in Luang Prabang at 20:40 local time. The Luang Prabang - Kunming flight leaves at 17:00 local time in Laos and arrives in Kunming at 19:30 Beijing time. The flight takes approximately 90 minutes.

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please confirm that your flight Luang Prabang to Kunming is still operating on Saturday 21st February 2009 at 17.00hrs.troyle@aol.com

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