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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Laos Prepares for Influx of Tourists with Intensive Training for Tour Guides

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The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism is currently conducting the 28th National Tour Guide Training for 89 tour guides throughout Laos in preparation for Visit Laos Year 2024.

According to Ms. Phenpapha Phongsa, Deputy Director of the Institute of Mass Media, Culture, and Tourism under the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, the training that has been ongoing since 6 June will conclude on 23 August.

Ms. Phenpapha informed the Laotian Times that out of 240 applicants, 89 were chosen to participate in the training. The applicants consist of graduates with tourism or other non-tourism degrees, as well as former tour guides.

The objective of the training is to improve the quality of tour guides in Laos so that they can meet the country’s growing requirements, as well as prepare for the prospective influx of tourists in 2024 and 2025.

“We are focusing not only on preparations for Visit Laos 2024 but also for the long-term plan,” says Ms. Phenpapha.

In this regard, Ms. Souvandaloun Vongphachanh, the Deputy President of the Lao Tourist Guide Association and a trainer for the tour guide program, informs that additional effort was made to impart Chinese language training because the country needs more Chinese-speaking guides to accommodate an increasing number of tourists from the country. 

She adds that since the Covid-19 period when tourism numbers dwindled, the number of experienced tour guides who are fluent in Chinese has decreased substantially, as many of them have left the profession. Hence, there has been a rise in demand for Chinese-speaking tour guides in Laos.

According to Ms. Phenpapha, the training covers 24 subjects and also includes special lectures by senior officials from tourism-related departments in the Lao government and the tour guide association. This program also includes Chinese, English, Vietnamese, Spanish, German, Italian, and Thai language classes.

Ms. Phenpapha says that the program emphasized greatly on practical training by requiring participants to visit tourist attractions and engage in role-playing involving greeting and assisting tourists.

“We believe that the most effective method is hands-on training, as we expect our tour guides to be fully capable of interacting with tourists once their training is complete.”

However, even though the participants have performed well in other areas, Ms. Souvandaloun identifies the tour guides’ shyness and lack of expression as the most obvious areas for improvement.

Ms. Souvandaloun says, “We’re encouraging them to be more expressive, interactive, and proactive, as some of them are still quite reserved and shy.”

The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism announced last month that they aim to attract over 4 million visitors and generate revenue of USD 712 million for “Visit Laos Year 2024,” with promotional activities like the production of a calendar, videos, and souvenirs, a press conference, and an opening ceremony scheduled to take place between September and December.

Until June 2023, Laos had welcomed over 1.6 million international tourists, with most foreign visitors traveling from Thailand, China, Vietnam, South Korea, and the United States.

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