Luang Prabang restaurants awarded for safety and hygiene excellence. Saturday, 16th August 2014 Source : Ministry of Industry and Commerce
Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) Minister Khemmani Pholsena awarded 'The Mark' certification to four Luang Prabang hotels and restaurants, the first to successfully pass a strict Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) audit, which verifies they meet minimal global guidelines for food production and workplace safety and hygiene.
The presentation highlighted The Mark’s official launch ceremony held at the Luang Prabang View Hotel on 24 July 2014, with close to 80 chefs, food and beverage managers, and human resource directors turning out to support the Luang Prabang Safe and Green Tourism Scheme’s clean and safe dining initiative.
The recipients had taken part in The Mark’s pilot project, which they deemed necessary for the destination as it grows in popularity among international travelers, who require carefree dining. The Mark also proves the eatery has necessary occupational health and safety measures in place, and respects the environment.
Those who achieved The Mark agreed that local food production workers are mostly unaware of hygienic practices and the need for a clean and safe kitchen management system. They added that incorporating CIEH guidelines into existing food production operations is simple and easy, and does not require a great expense.
Lanith (Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality) is operating The Mark with support from UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Lanith stressed it is targeting middle management and staff, who should take the lead in implementing the measures needed for certification, which includes persuading restaurant and hotel owners and supervisors to attain The Mark.
The Belmond la Residence Phouvao Hotel stepped up first to volunteer for The Mark’s pilot program, when Aey Thongkham enrolled three staff members in the program.
“The Mark is a great help for Luang Prabang’s hotels. Before, we had no standards, but the CIEH model showed us how to change the way we do things,” he said. “And, we didn’t need a large investment. We had all the equipment except proper uniforms. We just needed an organizational technique.”
Phoukham Thepboupha, owner of Thepboupha Restaurant, also jumped at the chance to reach for The Mark, as she felt the first-of-its-kind scheme in Luang Prabang offered an excellent opportunity to ensure food quality for the long term.
“Meeting The Mark’s standard is relatively easy to organize at minimal expense,” she said. “It is a great honor to receive The Mark. Our staff learned the importance of tourist and worker safety, which will help them improve the dining experience.”
Victoria Xiengthong Palace Hotel Senior Chef Doua Lee was also among The Mark’s first volunteers. “I had never heard of this type of system before, and we didn’t know much about safety standards before The Mark started in Luang Prabang. It greatly interested the hotel and me,” he said. “
Chef Lee added, “The staff really enjoyed the training. At first, they thought it would be difficult, and it was not easy, but they knew they could do it. They also realized The Mark certification would attract more guests, who would spend more money.”
Lanith Core Faculty Member, Lathsavong Syluanglath, accepted The Mark on behalf of The Balcony restaurant, which is operated by Lanith, the CIEH-accredited auditor for the programme. “Our food production was already quite good, but we still needed to make some small system changes.”
MoIC Minister Khemmani Pholsena emphasized that Luang Prabang needs to follow international safety and hygiene standards for food production. “Tourists come here for a good time and to be happy. Trouble-free dining is key to their experiences.”
MoIC Permanent Secretary Somvang Ninthavong discussed tourism growth in Luang Prabang, and thanked UNIDO, SECO, and Lanith for their support in establishing The Mark.
UNIDO Project Manager Dr Toshiyuki Miyake credited Luang Prabang Provincial Vice Governor Dr Bouakhong Nammavong for continuously engaging with public and private sector stakeholders and complimented Lanith for paving the way to The Mark’s success.
“Today, The Mark is becoming a public good, and is sustained by the commitment of Lanith and the provincial authorities, and they are now ready to process applications,” he said.
The Vice Governor emphasized, “We hope that the Mark will be widely used by hotels and restaurants in Luang Prabang. Better service backed by CIEH accreditation will attract more tourists.”
The Luang Prabang Hospitality Managers Meeting will discuss implementing The Mark during their monthly gathering on 31 July 2014, at The Balcony restaurant.
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