LaoSafe, a health and hygiene program for the tourism and hospitality sector, has just received official approval from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICT), and will now be piloted 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 outlets, airlines, tourist attractions, tour guides, and drivers.
Operating under an Advisory Committee chaired by Mr. Ounthuang Khaophan, Vice Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, these standards have been developed with MICT in partnership with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), business associations including the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Lao Association of Travel Agents, the Lao Tour Guide Association, the Lao Van Association, and key private sector partners including Lao Airlines, Lao Skyways, Crowne Plaza Hotel, and more. The standards have then been independently reviewed and approved by the MoH.
Darany Phommavongsa, Director General of the Department of Tourism Management and Chair of the LaoSafe Coordination Committee stated that ‘the goal of the LaoSafe program is to provide a uniform standard, aligned with international good practices, to align health and hygiene practices across the industry – to improve quality, protect staff and visitors alike and to inspire confidence in tourists considering a trip to the Lao PDR. With a quality program in place, the Lao tourism sector will be better prepared for a potential re-opening of international borders.’
Supporting material, including guides and training material is available at www.tourismlaos.org and will be supplemented by training delivered initially by the Institute of Mass Media, Culture and Tourism (IMCT). When confident of meeting the required standards, businesses will be able to apply for assessment by the Department of Tourism Management, which will visit each business to conduct the assessment on-site. Businesses that pass will be accredited as LaoSafe and receive a range of offline and digital marketing collateral. They will also be listed under a special directory of approved businesses on www.tourismlaos.org and be part of the domestic and regional marketing of the LaoSafe program. For businesses that do not pass the initial assessment, feedback will be provided, and once improvements have been implemented, these businesses will be able to retake the assessment.
Speaking during the design of the LaoSafe Program, Mr. Oudet Souvannavong, President of the LNCCI, stressed “the importance of having high-quality standards and a rigorous assessment protocol in place in order to build confidence in the program and raise standards across the sector.”
The LaoSafe Program is currently being piloted in Vientiane Capital, with trainers and assessors undergoing their initial training. Subject to Covid-19 restrictions being eased, it is expected Food and Beverage businesses will be able to undergo training and assessment from November, with accommodation providers from January 2022. Expansion to other key tourism destinations can be expected early in 2022 following the official launch of the LaoSafe Program in January.
During the pilot phase, training and assessment is being provided free of charge to businesses with the costs supported by the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029).
Technical and financial support of the LaoSafe Program is being provided by the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029). The Skills for Tourism Project is co-financed by the Governments of the Lao PDR, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Switzerland, and implemented by the MoES of the Lao PDR and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.