2021 Tourism and Hospitality Employment and Skills Survey research findings published

On Tuesday November 30th the Ministry of Education and Sports, represented by Mr Nouphan Outsa, Director General of the Technical Vocational Education and Training Department, disseminated the findings of its recently published Tourism and Hospitality Enterprise Survey of Employment and Skills in Lao PDR. The online meeting was co-chaired by Mme Darany Phommavongsa, Director General of the Tourism Management Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and attended by representatives from other Lao ministries, private sector representative bodies and development partners.

The survey, which was conducted from May to June 2021 and collected data from more than 1,300 businesses, sought to assess the impact COVID-19 has had on the tourism and hospitality sector in Lao PDR, and also look at recent trends in skills and employment demand.  As such, the ‘’survey is the most comprehensive of its type in tourism and hospitality in the Lao PDR and provides a representative picture of the sector, Mr Nouphan explained in his opening remarks.

Key findings underscore the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses ranging from hotels and restaurants to travel services and handicrafts subsectors across the country. Total employment in the sector has more than halved since reaching its peak in January 2020 and was estimated to stand at 28,400 at the time of the data collection. Business revenues in 2020 fell by 64.6% resulting in the closure of many tourism business, reduction in staff numbers, wages and trading hours. The survey estimates it could take over five years for the tourism and hospitality industry to return to pre-COVID-19 total employment numbers.

In contrast to this troubling impact and disruption to the sector’s services, the survey notes a significant increase in skills alignment between tourism and hospitality training providers and employers, with the number of employees holding tourism and hospitality related qualifications having more than doubled since the last survey conducted in 2018. 51% of employees now hold a formal qualification (up from 30% in 2018) and the illiteracy rate fell from 49% to 42% in the same time span.

In light of these findings both Mr Nouphan and Mme Phommavongsa underlined the importance of looking ahead and to focus on current efforts to revive the tourism sector and increase the alignment between skills supply and demand. ‘’Once the borders reopen, we need to be prepared to welcome international visitors with great service quality and hygiene standards. This means further strengthening the partnerships between training providers and tourism and hospitality businesses, and also building on initiatives such as the Lao Thiao Lao campaign and the LaoSafe programme,’’ Mme Phommavongsa emphasised in her closing remarks.

The survey report can be downloaded here.

The conduct and publication of the 2021 Tourism and Hospitality Enterprise Survey of Employment and Skills in Lao PDR was supported by the Skills for Tourism Project (LAO/029), which is co-financed by the governments of the Lao PDR, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Switzerland, and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports of the Lao PDR and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.