The goal of the LaoSafe program is to improve the quality of health and hygiene practices, while building confidence in Laos as a safe tourist destination.
After having previously handed over LaoSafe certificates to more than 40 professionals and businesses on 28 February, Mme Darany Phommavongsa, Director General of the Tourism Management Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICT), addressed the attending tour guides and drivers by congratulating them for passing the assessment and their commitment to providing a safe environment for both domestic and international tourists.
Under the current COVID guidelines governing international tourism to Laos, tour guides and drivers constitute one of the major points of contact for tourists.
“As international tourists may, at this stage, only enter the country by way of organized tours, it is all the more important for the country as well as its incoming tourists to rely on professionals such as yourselves who are serious about upholding great hygiene standards at all times,” Mme Darany Phommavongsa noted.
“We all had some fundamental understanding of relevant hygiene procedures and standards, but the training made us aware of scenarios and practices most of us hadn’t thought of previously,” Mr. Kethavy Sisavath, one of the certified LaoSafe tour guides explained.
This was also echoed by Mr. Syamphone Khamphavongsa who was also handed his LaoSafe Driver certificate: “The training was very practical, consisting of simulations such as responding to the news of having had contact with a COVID positive passenger and applying correct procedures.”
As further remarked by Mme Darany Phommavongsa, who handed out the LaoSafe certificates to the attending tour guides and drivers, “there is a growing demand from the private sector to become LaoSafe certified. We are now focusing on keeping the momentum going, responding to the growing number of requests, and expanding the training for tour guides and drivers in other key provinces such as Luang Prabang and Vientiane Province.”
Against the backdrop of the 22 businesses, 45 tour guides, and 30 drivers that have so far been certified, the program is also preparing additional trainers and assessors for the accommodation subsector, with hotels across the country keen to become LaoSafe certified.
More tour guides, drivers, and businesses are set to be certified, with additional awarding ceremonies planned to take place in Vientiane Capital and Luang Prabang over the coming weeks and months.
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 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.