Aiming to boost the number of visitors to eco-tourism areas, the Ministry of Tourism has introduced a new set of standards required of owners of homestay accommodation.
From the look and feel of the homestay lodgings to understanding roles and responsibility of accommodation management, the standards introduce some minimum requirements of owners in an effort improve services, promote eco-based tourism and improve the livelihoods of people in rural areas, according to Thong Khon, the minister of tourism.
“It is necessary for us to have this standard to improve quality of services to attract more tourists. It is a trend now for tourists to look for higher-quality services. The standard will help improve the living standard for people in the community,” he said.
The framework, which was launched on Wednesday, will be compulsory for homestay owners, he said.
Homestay owners can get the reference guide at provincial tourism offices and officials will conduct inspections and certify those homestay lodgings that meet the new requirements.
“Homestay owners are encouraged to get certified with the standard. And homestay owners in the community will not be asked to pay for the service,” said Khon.
By opening up their home for accommodation, homestays are intended to offer tourists an insight into the lives of local people living in rural areas.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, welcomed the new initiative, but said he was concerned that owners may not have enough money to upgrade facilities set out in the new requirements.
“There has been an increased interest among tourists toward eco-based tourism in the last few years. It is necessary for us to have a minimum standard to provide quality services to tourists,” he said.
“But if the requirement is to get certified with standards, then it will be hard for the owner to achieve it too. For example, if the standards require homestays to have a flush toilet, then they will need money to invest. And there is still the issue of the lack of access to water,” he added.
Kim Eang said the implementation of the new standards would require regular ongoing monitoring to be effective.
“It is about maintaining the same quality of services through time, which will need human resources to make inspections more effective.”