Posted: Submitted by wtanaka (648) on Wed, 2005-07-20 04:19. | Subject: Backpackers not allowed in Laos in preparation for meeting
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Laos, the mystical "Land of a Million Elephants" and a must-see on the southeast Asian hippy trail, is sending backpackers packing before a major get-together of regional political bigwigs next week.
With hundreds, if not thousands, of officials from more than 20 nations descending on the sleepy capital, Vientiane, for the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Laos' communist rulers have decreed that there is no room at the inn for solo travelers.
Only "tourists-in-groups, guaranteed by local tourist agencies" will be allowed into the leafy city, the official Vientiane Times said Tuesday, adding that tour operators must ensure that "no obstacle" gets in the way of important delegates.
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