The SUSTOUR Laos project has officially launched!
above: Travelife Engagement Event at The Grand Hotel, Luang Prabang Province on Febuary 3 2022
On December 15, 2021, the project, “Supporting Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Lao Tourism Industry Supply Chain to Access Markets for Sustainable Practices Project”, or SUSTOUR Laos for short, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) to begin implementation of activities in 11 districts across Luang Prabang Province, Vientiane Province, and Vientiane Capital. The SUSTOUR Laos project is funded by the European Union and implemented by Plan International Laos in cooperation with the Department of Trade Promotion of MoIC, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), and the European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism (ECEAT). Ultimately, this project aims to improve the sustainability of the Lao tourism industry by integrating local businesses into the tourism supply chain through the promotion and certification of sustainable business practices.
Adoption of sustainable practices for primary tourism businesses – travel agents, tour operators, and accommodations – will be certified and awarded by the Travelife certification standard developed by ECEAT and recognized internationally as the leading sustainability certification system in the tourism industry. Sustainable supplier businesses in 5 key sectors of the tourism supply chain – waste management, transportation, food & beverage, cultural excursions, and handicraft & souvenir – will be awarded by LNCCI under a locally developed certification called “Lasting Laos Certified” which will be developed by the project based on the Travelife methodology. All promotion for certified businesses’ sustainable tourism practices will be aligned under the Lasting Laos marketing campaign.
To kick off the project with tourism businesses, a series of Travelife engagement events were held in Vientiane Capital, Vientiane Province, and Luang Prabang Province. The events were chaired by Mr. Xaysomphet Norlasing, Director General of the Department of Trade Promotion of MoIC, and Mrs. Chanthachone Vongsay, Vice President of LNCCI. The purpose of these events was to provide Travelife-eligible businesses with an overview of the SUSTOUR Laos project and the Travelife certification program. In total, more than 120 representatives of tour operators, travel agents, and accommodation businesses participated and expressed interest in attaining the Travelife certification.
“This support would enhance the entrepreneur’s capacity, utilize the advantage of the environment, and mobilize the engagement of the entrepreneur to improve their production and service in order to meet the standard and be able to meet the demand of the tourism sector. The most important thing is having a hotel, tour operator, and their suppliers certified and recognized by the international visitor and being able to compete among our neighbors”, expressed Mr. Xaysomphet Norlasing, Director General of the Department of Trade Promotion of MoIC.
“The Travelife program is a significant step and opportunity for entrepreneurs to become a sustainable business by participating in the project’s activities which would include business operation enhancement and standardized improvement”, remarked Mrs. Chanthachone Vongxay, Vice President of LNCCI.
During these events, the participating businesses provided valuable feedback through group discussions related to improving the sustainability throughout the tourism supply chain as well as to guide the project in prioritizing supplier sectors to focus project activities and resources. Overall, these events were an important step forward for Laos tourism businesses to achieve the Travelife certified status and become recognized as a leading sustainable tourism business!
Text BY Xaiykhamla Maliya
Photographs by Plan International