Scaling up STED: “Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification” for tourist guides in Myanmar

“My name is U Lwin Aye, I am working
as a freelance tourist guide for almost forty years and I also work as a tour guide trainer. Because I love this kind of profession, you know, to show
the old temples around Bagan and tell more about Myanmar history, and the culture of Myanmar Buddhism.” Among South-East Asian countries, Myanmar has had
the highest rate of growth of international visitor arrivals
over the past four years. Tourism is a key driver
of socio-economic progress in Myanmar and it’s expected to provide
over two million new jobs by 2020. “However, there is a gap
between incoming investments and the skills of our citizens. As a developing country, Myanmar is facing a number
of challenges in the skills sector like any other developing nation.” “Skills development is
hugely important for tourism. Tourism is one of the new sectors, industries growing very fast in Myanmar. Tourism has huge potential
for the development of the country. Not just the hotels
and the restaurants, you know… the front end of the tourist chain but for the economy as a whole. It’s very very important
that the workforce is equipped with the skills required to support
the emerging tourist sector. And also the environmental sensitivity, you know… the ability to manage tourism in a way that doesn’t damage and does protect Myanmar’s
very beautiful environment.” To assist Myanmar in further
developing the tourism sector and its workforce, the ILO launched the “Scaling up STED: Skills for Trade and
Economic Diversification” project with a focus on tour guides. Tour guides are on the front line
of the tourism industry, and they are the ones who are
in direct contact with visitors. The ILO’s STED project
facilitated cooperation among all stakeholders
involved in the tourism sector and helped to create competency
based standards for tourist guides. “If all the tour guides in Myanmar train according to the set competency standards, I believe our tour guides will be trained according
to international standards. That is why the set
competency standards will be taught in hotel training schools, tour guide related
training schools and so forth, under the authority of
the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.” “We want to conduct competency
based training programme in our tourism training school, so now ILO is supporting to develop such kind of competency based
training programme. That’s why this project is very useful
for our tourism training school.” “These newly developed
competency standards will give us quite a perfect training guidelines that we call competency based training (CBT) with the developed action learning instead of an old style of lecturing.” “I think the secret of the success
of the STED programme has been its strong national ownership. You know, the key stakeholders
have really bought into this process… it’s been linked to
the national development strategy, to the national tourism strategy, but also to the national skills
development strategy.” “So, we are aware we cannot
accomplish this with our ministry alone. That is why we have requested
assistance from the ILO through its STED Project.” “To improve the Myanmar tourism sector we also need to work together
with other departments. We must connect them all
and work together. In addition, we need
the private sector onboard through public private partnerships.” “We need a lot of help from the government. As for UMTA and others organizations, we really need to work
with the government so that we can actually facilitate
the extra needs of the industry. So it’s more like Government and private sector working together
for a better industry.” “Through the guidelines of NSSA, we also need to work together with Union of Myanmar
Travel Association (UMTA) and Myanmar Tour Guide Association as well. So that while we formulate the curricula, our outcomes should meet
the needs of the industry.” “From our side, we have
requested the STED Project not only to draft standards in the future but also to provide trainings
based on those standards, draft the curricula and improve
the quality of teachers and trainers.” “This training is a very effective way
to become a professional tour guide.” “My nephews and nieces are all now becoming
new comers of tourist guides. I want them to study, improve their general knowledge, presentation and language skills, and acquire the right attitude. It is very important that the young generation
of tour guides receive the right training and skills
to present the rich culture and traditions of Myanmar
in the right way to foreign visitors. I want the new comer tour guides to always remember the polite manners and behave more like old Myanmar style.” International Labour Organization (ILO)

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