Following the recent approval of the LaoSafe programme from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICT), this health and hygiene programme for the tourism and hospitality sector is undergoing piloting in Vientiane Capital.
LaoSafe comprises a series of health and hygiene standards for different subsectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, including accommodation providers, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, airlines, tourist attractions, tour guides, and drivers. These documents are available for download, alongside more information, at www.tourismlaos.org.
“Progress so far has been very good,” says Darany Phommavongsa, Director General of the Department of Tourism Management and Chair of the LaoSafe Coordination Committee regarding the ongoing pilot in Vientiane Capital. “Following a series of intensive master training sessions, a team of eight trainers and eight assessors covering the F&B, Drivers, and Tour Guide subsectors are now supporting businesses and individuals in Vientiane Capital through the LaoSafe training and assessment process. Training will continue in the capital and be rolled out to Luang Prabang in January and February 2022 for these specific subsectors, ahead of the initial schedule in order to support the reopening of the country to international tourists in 2022.”
Building on the progress made so far, MICT will soon expand its focus to the accommodation sector, with a new team of eight assessors scheduled to undergo their master training in January. This team will then be able to assess hotels that are confident of already meeting LaoSafe standards with assessment and certification taking place from the end of January and into February. Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Vang Vieng accommodations will all be targeted during this period in accordance with the Lao Green Zone Travel Plan prioritized destinations.
Darany Phommavongsa added that “February will also see the training of a new team of Accommodation Trainers, who will then utilize LaoSafe accommodation expertise to train those businesses needing external support in order to reach the LaoSafe standards and help build their capacity to undergo assessment. Training of hotels will take place from the end of February and continue during 2022.”
While the initial focus of LaoSafe is on Accommodation, F&B outlets, Tour Guides and Drivers, and targeting towards Vientiane Capital, Luang Prabang, and Vang Vieng to support the initial re-opening, it is expected LaoSafe will be rolled out to additional provinces during 2022 as highlighted in the Lao Green Zone Travel Plan, and potentially expanded into other subsectors such as tourist attractions and spas.
LaoSafe training and assessments are implemented by MICT with support from the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029) which is co-financed by the governments of Lao PDR, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Switzerland.