Lao Tourism Arrives at "Moment of Truth" :
UNWTO Ulysses Prize winner Professor Kaye Chon told more than 100 travel industry leaders and students during the 4th Lanith Quarterly Symposium, held at the National University of Lao's Don Dok campus, that Lao tourism has reached its "moment of truth" and must immediately elevate its service quality to achieve the targeted USD1 billion in annual revenue by 2015.
Prof Chon, Dean and Chair Professor at the prestigious Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Hotel & Tourism Management presented "Enhancing Competitiveness through Service Quality" at the 9 September Lanith (Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality) event.
Prof Chon emphasised the importance of "moments of truth", which arise from memorable experiences tourists have, and these moments heavily rely on the service quality and personable interactions with travel-related staff from immigration officers and taxi drivers to restaurant waiters and hotel doormen.
"Tourists often remember their visits based on memorable experiences," Prof Chon said. "Tourists may forget the places they visited, the hotels where they stayed, or the meals they have consumed, but they remember those 'moments of truth' when the service quality exceeds their expectations."
He suggested that Lao tourism is now at its moment of truth – that opportune time to make a mark in the fast-growing Asia Pacific – but the country needs to raise the quality of skills for the current workforce and education for tourism and hospitality students.
Lanith Chief Technical Advisor Peter Semone said, "Lanith has already implemented its Passport to Success skills training program in cooperation with an enthusiastic private sector in Vientiane Capital and Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang, and Khammouane Provinces."
"Laos can become a centre of excellence for creating a strong hospitality service culture if it follows Professor Chon's lead," Mr Semone said. "We have arrived at Laos' tourism and hospitality moment of truth, and it is time to move ahead."
Lao PDR's Ministry of Education and Sport and Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Prof Chon, who co-ordinated a donation of USD50,000 in kitchen equipment from Hong Kong Polytechnic to Lanith.