Hospitality staff required to work in Xieng Khuang
A staffing shortage in Xieng Khuang province means that businesses in the tourism sector need to work closely with the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to solve the problem.
Phiavat temple one of the great historical monuments in Xieng Khuang province. -- Photo Phoonsab Thevongsa
There are numerous factors related to the current staffing shortage in the sector and one of them is that officials who serve as guides and provide other services are now majorly involved in the preparations for Xieng Khuang to host the 11th National Games in 2018.
Deputy Director of the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mr Sivilay Oudomsouk told Vientiane Times via phone yesterday that all preparations for the National Games are quite perfect, including the hospitality, tourism sites and other aspects.
However he admitted that it is quite hard to find staff who are knowledgeable on the tourist sites and other matters in order to cater to the expected influx of visitors next year.
“We are working with the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to train staff to work in this field and this is currently underway,” Mr Sivilay said.
“We have fully arranged the hospitality and tourism sites to welcome tourists, whose numbers are increasing every year but if we do not have enough guides or other staff to work in hospitality, Xieng Khuang will not be ready yet,” he explained.
The department reported that last month, over 1,000 Hmong people came from around the world to celebrate their New Year or Boun Kin Chieng in the province and that this provided the department with an opportunity to experiment in relation to hospitality.
“The experiment outcome indicated there was no problem with the hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and other facilities to receive them. What we face is a shortage of service personnel,” Mr Sivilay admitted.
The department also needs to devise a plan to minimise overcrowding at tourist sites by properly managing tourists during the high season as well as during the Xieng Khuang games because this will see a large influx of people visiting the Xieng Khuang games.
“We also plan to set up contingency plans such as camping grounds in natural areas when the hotels or guesthouses are full, as well as campaign for local people to be good hosts and provide for the happiness of the visitors,” he explained. Mr Sivilay also said that now there are over 40 tourism sites in Xieng Khuang province and 20 of them are important priorities so most of them are being developed to be more convenient during tourist high periods.
“Recently, we also encouraged local businesses to build another 18-20 hotels and 19 guesthouses to accommodate another 500-600 tourists in the future. So I believe most of them will be completed at the end of this year and then Xieng Khuang will have over 2,000 rooms for those visitors per night,” he explained.
They also encouraged local people to do agricultural ventures like planting vegetables to supply over 70 restaurants for those tourists in particular organic vegetables which are popular among foreign visitors.
Xieng Kuang tourism recorded that there were almost 60,000 tourists in 2015, which increased to over 70,000 in 2016.
“If the Plain of Jars, which is the most interesting place of the province, is accepted to be World Heritage, I am sure the amount of tourists will double.”
The department reported that they have already sent documents to require the Plain of Jars to be the 3rd world heritage tourism site in Laos and forwarded it to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
“Now the ministry is working with UNESCO in Laos before the proposal is sent to UNESCO headquarters and it should be approved at the end of this year. We believe we will be able to obtain world heritage status by 2019 if there is nothing in the document which needs to be amended,” Mr Sivilay said. He added however, that everything about the tourism sites will be perfect before the 11th National Games in Xieng Khuang in 2018.
By Souknilundon Southivongnorath
(Latest Update January 20, 2017)