VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Tour guides need to raise their standards so that they adequately serve their clients and provide an acceptable level of service, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Suanesavanh Vignaket, has told the National Assembly.
At the same time, the government will review plans to promote shared tourism in Laos and evaluate the results of the private sector’s cooperation in this field, the minister said.
The state and private sectors will jointly run a tourism information campaign to support the government’s goal to promote tourism and attract more local and overseas investment in the tourism industry, she added.
The minister was addressing questions by Assembly members about the government’s plans to improve the quality of tour guides.
Members claimed that the government appeared to have no clear plan to build the capacity and knowledge of guides working in historical and cultural fields.
Although many guides were proficient in various languages, they lacked sufficient knowledge about Lao history and culture and struggled to be innovative in their communication with tourists, Assembly members said.
They said guides needed to be able to recount interesting stories that entertained visitors, as well as giving them detailed descriptions of the lives of local people.
These are things that tourists want and expect, but unfortunately, the Lao tourism industry falls short in this regard, Assembly members said.
There is a great need for tour guides to be better informed about Laos’ history and cultural traditions, they added.
To remedy the situation, the ministry should focus on selected aspects of tourism, with particular attention to building the skills of tour guides so that Lao tourism gains a better reputation among both local and overseas visitors, as well as attracting more investment in tourism, members said.
The ministry should identify weaknesses in the skills of tourism-related occupations, and review training programmes to assess whether standards of competency are adequate.
“We have seen the limitations of skill standards in tourism. We believe it is necessary to give tour guides more responsibility and give recommendations as to how best to integrate tour guide skills and green job components, so there is all round improvement in the public relations aspect of tourism,” Assembly members said.