Hospitality Training and Sustainable Tourism
Like any school in Thailand, Mae Sot’s Hospitality & Catering Training Centre (HCTC) students and teachers start the morning by paying respect to the Thai flag and singing the national anthem. HCTC offers training to underprivileged Karen youth who face all kinds of problems due to lack of official documentation as legal residents of Thailand. Begun in 2008, HCTC was founded by a joint French-Thai nonprofit organization to provide education and better job opportunities for students from five border districts on the Thailand/Myanmar border.
Lergey is a 22 year old student who has been studying hospitality for over a year now but is not allowed to work anywhere in Thailand except for the Mae Sot area. Luckily he was able to get an internship at the Mae Sot restaurant, Baifern. HCTC staff is working hard to obtain the necessary documentation for students like Lergey, but it is a time consuming process.
Other young students including Say Paw with an internship at Khao Lak Poolman, Chai Chai with a kitchen internship at Anantara Lawana, and Wanpen with a front office internship at Hotel Lotus Sukhumvit, Bangkok are luckier because they already have official Thai IDs. All four students are aiming for a future job in hospitality and HCTC is allowing them to pursue their dream of a having a career and gaining financial independence for them and their families.
Recently the program has expanded to Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. The first course started in 2011 with the first batch of students graduating in 2014. Since then, the length of the course has been trimmed to two years with training in four main hospitality areas: Front Office, Food and Beverage Service, Housekeeping and Culinary/Cooking.
The curriculum includes ten hours of English per week as well as important life skills training. The students gain a well-rounded background to develop skills in interpersonal relationships, personal identity, intercultural communication, basic business management, information technology and public and reproductive health.
The final requirement is to do an internship of two to five months at a 4 or 5-star hotel such as Accor, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Centara, Anantara, or Starwood in order to experience what their position entails at a high and demanding level. Internships are the ultimate learning-by-doing example!
In addition to the educational programs, HCTC operates a hotel. At the moment, the hotel has four rooms for guests and a 35-seat restaurant with a professional kitchen run by two HCTC graduates. The menu is changed weekly and focuses on Asian and Western dishes, including home made bread, other bakery products and ice cream.
The training center is located on the outskirts of Mae Sot, but the staff provides a 24-hour taxi service into town. They also offer day tours to hotel guests to various attractions around this border town, such as visiting the fresh market, enjoying an authentic Burmese breakfast, joining a cooking class and even take visitors on trips to the students’ home villages.
For clients who like to support sustainable tourism, HCTC is an excellent choice. Mae Sot is also a perfect base for travel excursions to Umphang for trekking, white water rafting and waterfalls, Sukhothai (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and even overland adventures into Myanmar all the way to Yangon! Mae Sot can be reached by plane from Bangkok and by overnight bus from Bangkok, Sukhothai, and Chiang Mai.
For more information about exploring the Mae Sot area and a wonderful community offering sustainable tourism and youth empowerment, please contact to [email protected]