EU SWITCH-Asia SUSTOUR project advancing sustainability in Lao PDR post-pandemic tourism recovery

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EU SWITCH-Asia SUSTOUR project advancing sustainability in Lao PDR post-pandemic tourism recovery
Country: Lao PDR

With the financial support from the European Union through its SWITCH-Asia programme, Plan International in collaboration with the Department of Trade Promotion of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC), the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), and the European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism, is implementing SUSTOUR Laos – Supporting Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises in the Lao Tourism Industry Supply Chain to Access Markets for Sustainable Practices. Ultimately, the project aims to improve the sustainability of the Lao tourism industry by integrating local businesses into the tourism supply chain through the promotion and certification of sustainable business practices.

After a challenging preparation phase during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Plan International and its partners managed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lao government on 15 December 2021. SUSTOUR Laos officially started its activities in 11 districts of Luang Prabang, Vientiane Provinces, and Vientiane Capital. 

H. E. Ina Marčiulionytė, European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR, expressed

The MoU for this project is very timely as Laos prepares for reopening to tourism in the coming months. The project will play an essential role in supporting the economic recovery of the country from the unprecedented global pandemic that has an adverse effect on the global and domestic tourism sector, and contribute to the green transition of the sector.


The SUSTOUR Laos Project MoU signing ceremony between Plan International Laos and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC).

Travelife Certification 

The Travelife certification is a key component of the SUSTOUR project. The certification programme enables tour operators and accommodation businesses to benchmark, measure, and improve the sustainability of their business operations and supply chain. Ultimately, those businesses that meet the certification criteria are awarded the Travelife certificate. 

In order to promote the certification among Lao tourism businesses, a series of Travelife engagement events were held in Vientiane Capital, Vientiane, and Luang Prabang Provinces. The events were chaired by Mr. Xaysomphet Norlasing, Director General of the Department of Trade Promotion of MoIC, and Mrs. Chanthachone Vongsay, Vice President of LNCCI

The purpose of these events was to provide Travelife eligible businesses with an overview of the SUSTOUR Laos project and the Travelife certification programme. In total, more than 120 representatives of tour operators, travel agents, and accommodation businesses participated and expressed interest in attaining the Travelife certification. 

“The Travelife programme is a significant step and opportunity for entrepreneurs to become a sustainable business by participating in the project’s activities which would include business operation enhancement and standardized improvement”, remarked Mrs. Chanthachone Vongxay, Vice President of LNCCI.

Overall, these events were an important step forward for Laos tourism businesses to achieve the Travelife certified status and become recognised as a leading sustainable tourism business. 


Marketing Sustainable Tourism

The SUSTOUR Laos Project has developed a marketing campaign called ‘Lasting Laos’ to promote sustainable tourism practices and the Lastinglao Facebook fan page was created to promote project activities and be a resource for tourism businesses and tourists. The Lasting Laos campaign promotes tourism that respects environmental resources, socio-cultural essence, and long-term viability, contributing to the economic development of communities in Laos.  

The project also promotes this campaign through billboards at crowded locations such as in airports and night markets, posters, booklets, and videos to encourage domestic and international tourists to choose sustainable tourism businesses. With the slogan “Make Better Choices for Sustainability”, the Lasting Laos campaign aims to promote SCP practices as the future of business and brand the country as a sustainable, cultural, and green destination for years to come. This is a campaign that inspires positive emotions, ensuring continual preservation of Laos’ natural beauty and guaranteeing lasting rewards.


Lasting Laos joined the Made-in-Laos event to promote its campaign and the project activities. The PM, H.E Phankham Viphavanh, also visited the Lasting Laos booth hosted by the European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR, H. E. Ina Marčiulionytė.