Laos reopened its borders to international tourists on 9 May, dropping all testing and quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers. Since then, interest in the country has grown, with an increase in visitors of over 50% by the end of June leading to a surge in demand for organised tours and renewed hope for the coming high season.
Coinciding with the end of the monsoon rains, Laos traditionally sees visitor numbers rise in October, and travel operators across the country are now racing to further certify tour guides and drivers to cope with the anticipated influx of tourists. To date, over 710 tour guides and 270 drivers have achieved LaoSafe certification.
“LaoSafe is a great standard to have and is very important during the new normal. The LaoSafe training that our guides have received has helped them prioritise safety and cleanliness. As a tour operator, I want travellers to know that Laos has safety standards in place for them to travel with peace of mind and confidence. I would like to invite everyone to visit Laos and for tour operators in Laos to apply for LaoSafe.”, says Duangmala Phommavong, Managing Director at EXO Travel Laos.
Implemented by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and approved by the Ministry of Health, LaoSafe is a nationwide initiative designed to create a world-class health and hygiene system within the tourism and hospitality industry.
Sector-specific standards have been developed for accommodation, food and beverage, tour guides, and drivers, to raise the benchmark of hygiene provision throughout the country and build international confidence in Laos as a safe tourist destination.
“As a DMC (destination-management company) it is of utmost importance for us to be able to offer our customers a safe and quality experience. As COVID-19 has changed our world and our way of living, it was important for us to adapt as well and thanks to the LaoSafe initiative this has been possible,” says Julie Beaufrère, Product and Inbound Officer at Asian Trails Laos.
“Not only does this initiative allow us to reassure our customers who would be concerned about safety and hygiene measures in Laos, but it also allows us to access a harmonization of services and the creation of standards on a national scale that we will continue to support by training our guides and drivers through LaoSafe,” she commented.
While visitor numbers are not immediately expected to bounce back to 2019 levels, the removal of entry restrictions has given the tourism and hospitality industry a welcome boost after two years of tightly controlled borders. Yet, with COVID-19 numbers still fluctuating around the world, protecting against infection is still a concern for many.
The LaoSafe Programme is supported by the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029), which is co-financed by the governments of Laos, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Switzerland, and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports of Laos and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
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