The LaoSafe program organized its first Certificate Awarding Ceremony in Vientiane Capital on Monday.
The event was held in the presence of Mr. Ounthuang Khaophanh, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICT), Mr. Nouphan Outsa, Director General of the Technical Vocational Education Department (TVED), Mr. Sam Schreiner, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Luxembourg and Mr. Christian Engler, the Swiss Development Cooperation’s (SDC) Deputy Country Director, 19 individuals received their credentials as LaoSafe Trainers and Assessors, in addition to 22 businesses receiving their LaoSafe certification.
LaoSafe is a health and hygiene program approved by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the MICT and comprises a series of health and hygiene standards for different subsectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, including for accommodation providers, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, airlines, tour guides, and drivers. The goal of LaoSafe is to both improve the quality of health and hygiene practices while building confidence in Lao PDR as a safe tourist destination.
Speaking at the event, the Vice Minister of the MICT made note of the progress that has already been achieved by the LaoSafe program, which officially commenced its piloting in Vientiane Capital a month ago.
“Following a series of intensive preparation sessions, we have now reached one of the program’s first milestones, which is the certification of Trainers and Assessors for the subsectors of food and beverage, tour guides and drivers,’’ he explained.
“Trainers and Assessors for the accommodation sector are currently undergoing preparation.”
These LaoSafe Trainers are officially certified to train food and beverage outlets as well as tour guides and drivers in preparation for their LaoSafe assessment, and a team of assessors have been equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform onsite inspections.
During their preparation, the trainers and assessors were given the opportunity to directly practice their skills by coaching and assessing numerous businesses which had expressed interest in becoming LaoSafe certified.
“The training provided by the LaoSafe Trainers was not just crucial to refresh and expand our staff’s understanding of relevant hygiene procedures against COVID, but it also gave us the confidence that we would pass the strict assessment to become LaoSafe certified,’’ said Ms. Dalaphone Pholsena, Managing Director of Kualao Restaurant.
As remarked by Mme. Darany Phommavongsa, Director General of the Tourism Management Department of the MICT,”‘it’s been extremely encouraging to witness the interest of tourism and hospitality businesses and professionals in the LaoSafe certification. Consequently, a lot of trainings and assessments are underway in Vientiane Capital and in Luang Prabang”.
Numerous businesses, ranging from the national airlines – which also received their certification during the event – to accommodation businesses like Crowne Plaza Hotel understand the need to make their domestic and international clients feel cared for.
“We owe it to our guests to make them feel absolutely safe on our premises. Once the borders have fully reopened, we want to be able to show to potential clients that we have done everything in our power to ensure that all operations are run with strict dedication to high-quality hygiene standards,’’ Mr. Nattawut Wetprasit, Director of Operations of the Crowne Plaza Hotel emphasized.
More tour guides, drivers, and businesses are set to be trained and assessed in the coming months in different locations of the country. Additional awarding ceremonies are also planned to take place in Vientiane Capital and Luang Prabang in the coming weeks.
The LaoSafe program is supported by the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029), which is co-financed by the governments of the Lao PDR, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Switzerland, and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports of the Lao PDR and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.