Inthy Deuansavanh, former student of the statistics faculty in the former Soviet Union, former salesman of Marlboro Company, shifted from being an employee to run a small barbeque business in Namphou, Chathabouly district, Vientiane Capital. Eventually, he becomes a young businessman well known as manager of Khop Chai Deu Restaurant, which gives birth to many businesses with total investment of USD 1,000,000.
In last September 2007 Inthy disclosed to Target Magazine team, saying: ”I used to study the statistics in the Soviet Union for three years at the time, when the Soviet Union experienced the political change. Therefore, I could not finish my study and returned home. After I arrived in the country, I worked for the Finance Office of Kenthao district, Sayaboury province for six months. I wanted to study for Bachelor Degree so I came back to my family in Vientiane Capital.
When I waited for further study, I worked for Marlboro Company for six months in order to get some earnings for relieving the burden of the family and for school fees and textbooks. The company saw that I gained good achievements so it assigned important work to me more. Now, I think that working there had many advantages, It helped me meet with many businessmen, learn business operation and experiences, which can be used. If I study, I will get only theory, therefore, I decided to work. After I worked for five years, in 1997 the economic crisis so called bubble economy occurred in this region and put negative impact on our country.
In 1998 I requested to quit the job in the company and started running a small barbeque restaurant and at that time the Government laid down the policy on tourism promotion. I noticed that a number of foreign tourists visiting Laos increases consistently. My house is located on Khoum Namphou (Khoum – residential area of a city), which is a tourist area surrounding by government department buildings, including many banks. When I saw that, I thought if I run barbeque business, it will not be profitable. Therefore, I discussed with parents and family to renovate the house, an old building that was built in 1923 in the French colonial era to be a small-30-seat restaurant with order and barbeque service to serve foreign tourists. Beginning from a few dishes, the restaurant expands consistently. It is lucky that the business is accepted by customers, who come to use the service. The number of clients of the restaurant increases consistently.”
Inthy added that 18 July 2007 is the ninth founding anniversary of Khop Chai Deu Restaurant. If you are our clients, you may notice that during the nine years we have restored, expanded and improved the Khop Chai Deu restaurant. The business profits have been used to expand the business from the small-30-seat restaurant to be able now to serve over 200 customers.
Question: Why is Khop Chai Deu named?
Inthy smiled and answered that it is thought about many names, however, Khop Chai is a Lao word or foreign tourists know what its meaning is. This word is widely used in daily life so Deu was put in the end of this world in order to make this word more informal. It is also lucky that the name “Khop Chai Deu” becomes a selling point, which helps foreign tourists remember and can say it.
Question: What point can attract customers to the restaurant, in addition to the suitable location, attractive name, interior and exterior decoration with harmonious combination of Lao traditional and modern styles?
Inthy thought shortly and answered confidently that our honesty to customers means those who come to use our service feel that they obtain justice. Even though our restaurant is not cheapest or not the most expensive, customers will understand that what they pay for the presented service plus location and taste of foods is profitable. This helps customers satisfy Khop Chai Deu.
Question: What other businesses do you have, besides the restaurant?
Inthy smiled one more time and answered that after we opened Khop Chai Deu restaurant for two years, we established Sayo restaurant in Vang Vieng. After this business was opened a year half, it was noticed that foreign tourists were interested in the tourism of Vang Vieng with beautiful nature. Therefore, tourist service unit was opened there to carry out main tourist service activity, adventure rafting along Song River for watching nature. This activity is accepted by customers and expands. To date, we have had six tourism branches in Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Thakhek and Pakse. Tourism conservation program was added to the activities.
In particular, we are currently carry out this program in Luang Namtha for nearly two years, aiming at local participatory development and helping the locals generate incomes and protect environment. Since then, we have named the company as Green Discovery, which guides tourists to villages and reach people living in remote areas. It helps the people shift from the occupation destroying wildlife, forests and environment as before to occupy stable jobs.
Inthy showed that before people living in Namlay village, Luang Namtha province had only income of 500,000 kip per a family per year. After we started the programme, bringing tourists to this area for less than 16 months, it is noticed that the income of the people multiplies. Sometimes, they work as guide to lead tourists to watch birds and wildlife and they can earn 100,000 kip per day. The bank of the village has 54 million kip.
Question: Is this kind of tourism good? What do you think?
Answer: On my opinion, this kind of tourism has advantages, if we have a good plan to cope with it. But if we have no programme and do not arrange and determine a detailed goal, the flow of too many tourists will surely cause losses to environment as well as culture, he said.
In 2003 Inthy built a resort with 13 rooms in Sisavang village, Vang Vieng district, Vientiane province and in 2006 also constructed a hotel with 13 rooms in Thakhek, Khammouan province. It is projected this hotel will open in November 2007.
In the future Inthy sets up the target for expanding businesses in the tourism network, particularly tourist sites and hotels.
Inthy Duanesavanh concluded that tourism investment in our country has bright future and many conveniences such as the government policy on widening tourism investment, rich tourist destinations plus hospitality of Lao people. This is reason, which investors are interested in.
The last question about the current investment value made Inthy to think for a little while and he gave a simple answer: “about one million U.S dollars.”