More than 15 of Luang Prabang’s top hotels and restaurants raced to fill all 72 seats for Lanith’s (Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality) pair of five-day Passport to Success training sessions, held during the weeks of 23 March and 30 March, as the UNESCO World Heritage site’s eateries aim to achieve “The Mark” certification for food production and workplace safety and hygiene.
This overwhelming demand for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) accredited training modules – Health and Safety in the Workplace and Food Safety – prompted Lanith to offer two additional sessions commencing on 8 June and 15 June.
Lanith’s The Mark Administrator Manichan Chanpradid credits the rapid sell out to the teamwork from the institute’s Vientiane and Luang Prabang offices, the monthly Lanith General Manager Rendezvous meetings, and Lanith Food Production Advisor, Paul Burnett, who signed up most of the participants.
“The rest was just a matter of collecting the right data, meeting the right people and explaining the importance of the Passport to Success and The Mark certification for the future of Luang Prabang tourism,” Ms Manichan said.
Among those striving for The Mark is Luang Prabang’s premier hotel, Amantaka. General Manager Gary Tyson stated, “As a part of this initiative, we can be a leader in the community and a positive influence in setting Luang Prabang apart from other regional destinations in a competitive market place.”
He added, “A consistent high level of food safety in the hospitality sector is an important step in reassurance when dining in Luang Prabang. Furthermore, our international travel partners expect, as standard policy, that hotels and restaurants have accredited hygiene standards in place.”
Mr Tyson sent eight staff members to Lanith’s CIEH training, one of who was Sous Chef Vilaphet Bounsawat, who commented, “After completing the two modules on food safety, I have a much better understanding of the principles. In addition, I learned about many topics to support my daily tasks.”
Gilles Vautrin, owner of the upscale L’Elephant restaurant, sent 13 staff members for CIEH training. “Laos is a tropical country and microbes and bacteria develop too quickly. With Lanith training, our staff will better understand that what we teach them every day are international guidelines, not only ours, and we always aim to provide safety food to our customers.”
Luang Prabang View Hotel General Manager John Morris Williams sent four of his kitchen crew to Lanith’s CIEH courses. “It is always important to keep the minds of our staff active and to develop them as much as we can. These training modules also provide them with a different work environment, as it is crucial for them to see a new set up and different ways of working.”
He pointed out that The Mark gives recognition to hotels and restaurants. “CIEH carries a lot of power behind it, and staff being trained under that banner gives recognition to both our hotel and staff, while assisting travel agents, who are always looking for establishments with high standards.”
Café Toui Owner and Chef Toui Somphonphakdy participated in the training as he believes it makes good business sense. “This training greatly benefits those who operate dining businesses, whether they are small or large, as Lanith’s CIEH courses provide staff with valuable food hygiene and safety knowledge.”
Lanith’s Passport to Success Industry Training Programme trainer and CIEH-accredited Kusonh Vilayvanh, who conducts the courses, said, “The training has been successful because of the cooperation from the students, who understand the importance of applying this knowledge in their workplaces…My wish is that this training can make a difference in the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, especially in Luang Prabang.
Lanith Technical Expert Sophie Hartman noted that two CIEH training sessions will be offered at the institute’s Vientiane campus from 17 until 28 August.
To achieve The Mark certification, restaurants and hotel dining outlets must pass a strict CIEH audit, which is awarded by the Luang Prabang Safe and Green Tourism Scheme, with the goal of raising the city’s stature as a high-end tourism destination. Four restaurants were awarded The Mark during its 2014 pilot phase.
Lanith is The Mark’s operating body, and receives support from UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)