The tourism and hospitality sector in Lao PDR has expanded rapidly in recent years and the trend is set to continue. Tourism and hospitality services often drive revenues for micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), particularly in rural areas, which in turn can provide the livelihood for people from poor backgrounds. However, often MSMEs are not able to attract and retain customers due to low service quality; and many job-seekers, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, lack the necessary skills to break into the sector. This prevents MSMEs and disadvantaged job-seekers from benefitting from the potential of the growing tourism and hospitality sector in the country.
The Pheun Than Heng A Sip (PTHAS) Training Programme includes over 120 training units, each tailor-made to address the issue of low service quality in tourism and hospitality businesses. Swisscontact originally developed the programme in partnership with the Lao National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (LANITH), and piloted it in Champasak Province with the Department of Information Culture and Tourism (DICT), and the Champasak Hotel and Restaurant Association (CHRA), under a previous project from 2013 to 2016.
Under the new initiative the PTHAS will be expanded into eight southern and central provinces beyond Champasak and also form the basis of a new industry training programme which will prepare people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access to employment opportunities. The PTHAS Training Programme into has been made possible under the wider Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029) which is financially supported by the Governments of Lao PDR, Switzerland and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR and the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency (LuxDev).