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PATA Picks Lao Star as Tourism’s “Face of the Future”

May 20, 2014 Association No Comments Email Email

Every year, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) awards its “Face of the Future” to an exceptional travel and tourism rising star who exhibits initiative and leadership in advancing tourism, and demonstrates commitment to the sustainable development of the Asia Pacific travel industry.

This year, PATA placed this crown on Lanith Core Faculty Member, Soulinnara “Nara” Ratanavong, at an awards presentation at the Association’s Annual General Meeting on 17 May 2014, in Zhuhai, China.

Ms Ratanavong said, “I am very grateful to receive this prestigious award; I would like to thank the Lanith Team and PATA for trusting me as the 2014 PATA Face of the Future.”   unnamed (46)

PATA CEO Martin Craigs, stated, “This year, the Face of the Future programme attracted a great number of strong candidates,” however Ms Ratanavong deserved the top recognition for her accomplishments.

“My greatest accomplishment is choosing the right career, and I’m enthusiastic about tourism,” Ms Ratanavong explained. “Lanith played a critical role in sending me in the best direction, as I want to be a teacher and share my experience with students. Also, Lanith is a great team…I’m just one person.”

The 28-year-old Ms Ratanavong’s journey into tourism and Lanith started in secondary school. She recognized the potential of Lao tourism, the career opportunities, and its importance to the nation’s economy.

“When I graduated from high school…no Lao colleges offered tourism programmes,” she said. “Still, I knew pursuing a career in the travel trade was a good decision. Now the industry is growing, and I’m growing with it.”

She received a Diploma in English at the Lao American College, and then entered the Academy of International Management, Paris, earning a Master of Science in Hospitality Management.

Meanwhile, word of Lanith’s initiative had reached Ms Ratanavong in France, and she began communicating with its administration.

She returned to Laos, and worked at tourism businesses, but her eye remained on Lanith. “What I really wanted to do was teach tourism,” so she sent her CV to Lanith in hopes of landing a part-time teaching job.

Upon reviewing Ms Ratanavong’s credentials, Lanith knew they had found a star. With the Core Faculty already in place, Lanith needed to create a position that matched Ms Ratanavong’s abilities.

In mid-2013, Ms Ratanavong spent some three months at Lanith’s Luang Prabang Satellite Training Centre before a two-month internship at Bangkok’s upper-end Rembrandt Hotel and Towers. Her responsibilities now cover duties ranging from teaching through intern placement.

When named “Face of the Future”, she announced, “I hope to explore new experiences and share them with future generations.”

Ms Ratanavong’s first tasks are to introduce the Lanith system to Chinese students, and then travel to Germany to attend the world’s leading travel trade show, IMEX, on 20-22 May.

“Going to IMEX is an excellent opportunity for me, Lanith, and Lao tourism,” Ms Ratanavong said. “I’ll have the chance to build a network with leading global tour operators, booking engines, destination marketers, airlines, and hotels.”

She added, “I’ll get a practical insight into the industry’s global picture, and how it is developing, and merge this information with the Lao perspective.”

Ms Ratanavong emphasised that when she returns, “I will do my best to create awareness in the importance of the tourism industry in Laos.”

She plans to attend education fairs, visit secondary schools, conduct field trips, engage the Lao media, and possibly make a video for Lao people, who view tourism as just a job. “In reality, the industry offers the opportunity to gain knowledge and progress.”

Ms Ratavong added, “Because Face of the Future is a global award, it will help me, Lanith, and Laos become more recognizable in the industry, while advancing professional development.”

She concluded, “I believe that a proper attitude is the most important quality for someone seeking a career in tourism and hospitality. Anyone can train to do a job, but you need the right attitude to grow.

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