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New brand for local handicrafts

Cambodian handicrafts branded with the ‘Ke’ brand logo are displayed for sale at a local shop. Photograph: Melon Rouge Agency/Phnom Penh Post

Local tourist handicrafts are to have a new standardised branding, after the Ministry of Tourism, in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and funded by Japan, launched the Ke brand last week.

Ke, meaning heritage in Khmer, represents the Cambodian Handicraft Community, a national and provincial brand for all handicrafts made in Cambodia, and distinguishes them from imported products.

“The number of tourists increased for sure,” said Nguon, member of the Artisans Association of Cambodia and weaving specialist in the Ke project. “They want to buy some souvenirs made in Cambodia,” she said, adding that they don’t want imported products from China.

“Ke will be the brand for the local products; it will distinguish those products from the products imported from other neighbouring countries.”

The launch of Ke brand is part of “Improving Market Access for the Poor in Central Cambodia,” a project by the ADB and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction that supports rural people in Kampong Thom.

But according to Nguon, the branding will cover the whole of Cambodia and while the design remains the same, each province will have its own Ke brand logo.  

Eric Sidgwick, country director of ADB’s Cambodia Resident Mission said during the national launch of Ke that while the rapid growth of tourism continues to create significant economic benefits in Cambodia’s main tourism centers such as Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, “tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction in rural areas has been less pronounced”.

He said continued investments in rural infrastructure is required to provide remote rural communities with physical access to markets and at the same time expand tourist access to Cambodia’s ancient heritage sites and natural landscapes.

“As new sites are opened up, support for rural producers is required to capitalise on the needs of the tourist market, including strengthening local value chains, establishing and improving tourist services and marketing locally made products – including authentic Khmer handicrafts and unique local foods,” he said.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said according to numbers provided by the Ministry of Tourism, tourists spend about 20 to 25 per cent of their total spending during a tour on souvenirs.

He said it represents a large amount of money and if there is branding that identifies handicrafts are made locally, it will encourage tourists to buy more local products and souvenirs.

To protect the Ke brand and prevent any abuse, the Ministry of Tourism will set up a committee to monitor its use, according to Nguon.

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