The Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029) Steering Committee convened in Vientiane Capital on 10 December to review achievements and progress made to date and to present its goals for the upcoming year.
The project was co-chaired by Mr. Nouphanh Outsa, Director General of the Technical and Vocational Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Sports, Mr. Christian Engler, Deputy Director of Cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and Mr. Nicolas Tasch, Attaché of the Luxembourg Embassy.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Nouphanh Outsa stated that “although the tourism sector has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, attracting Lao youth to enrol in technical vocational education and to pursue a career in tourism remains important in 2021 for the economic recovery of the country”.
To showcase the possibilities that technical vocational education and the tourism industry offer, the Skills for Tourism Project launched a nationwide outreach campaign in 2020 under the theme “Hosts of Laos”.
The project is well on track for achieving its objectives and has adapted to the uncertain COVID-19 landscape to strengthen the tourism and hospitality sector and pave the way to recovery during the project’s final year of implementation in 2021. In his remarks, Mr. Christian Engler highlighted the ability of the project to adjust in the face of COVID-19 and stressed that Switzerland is ‘looking forward to further support the industry through technical vocational education and skills development’.
Since the project’s inception in 2016, more than 7,300 people have participated in project-supported courses in tourism and hospitality. An important focus of the project is to ensure the inclusion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds in tourism and hospitality training programs. The project’s objective is for graduates of tourism and hospitality to find employment. To date, 72% of graduates traced have been able to find jobs or pursue further studies. Employment rates have however been negatively impacted by COVID-19 in the year 2020.
Support to an industry battered by the pandemic also comes in the form of upskilling those who are still employed in the sector and through a novel hygiene program for the Lao tourism and hospitality sector that will be deployed in 2021. The Skills for Tourism Project has also provided financial support for the domestic tourism marketing campaign Lao Thiao Lao led by the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI).
As part of its efforts to enhance the quality of vocational education, the Skills for Tourism Project completed the construction of a tourism and hospitality practical training facility –The Academy Training Hotel and Restaurant – which was inaugurated in Vang Vieng in November 2020.
In his remarks, Mr. Nicolas Tasch stated that ‘this new training facility further showcases every stakeholder’s resolve to equip Lao youth with labor-market relevant skills and to strengthen professional practices worthy of an ASEAN travel destination’.
The Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029) is co-financed by the Governments of Lao PDR, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Switzerland, and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency. The Skills for Tourism Project’s total budget is EUR 15 million, with nearly EUR 3 million programmed for its final year of implementation in 2021.