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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Taking off in tourism

Taking off in tourism

Kim Sitha
Freelance tour guide and director of sales, Angkor Vacation Travel & Tours.
“Gold and diamonds can vanish one day, but the temples are here to stay,” said Kim Sitha, who has been a tour guide since 2000. “I think that in coming years, visitors will increase.”
“There are some minor problems with being a guide, such as battling the heat under the sunshine all day, but I think the life of a guide is relatively easy and we can continually improve our knowledge of the tourism sector. We can also learn from foreign tourists and experience a different social life.”

Sem Sokhorn
Manager, Banquet of Angkor Centrury Hotel.
“It is difficult to get this position because I need to work hard and continuously learn about food and beverages,” said Sem Sokhorn, who has more than 10 years of experience in the hotel industry, adding that English language is a key to realising success because it is necessary to communicate with foreigners. “Training courses allowed me to improve but also help me to improve the service in my department as I continue to try my best and work hard.”

Kim Sitha
Managing director of sales and tour operations, Travel Loops.
“Everytime I meet a new guest I learn about new ideas,” said Seng Phalkun, who has been involved in the tourism industry since 1996, when he was a driver for three years before becoming a tour guide in 1999. “That’s why I am so interested in tourism sector and the field inspires me to upgrade myself. I will try to expand my service to neighboring countries. Cambodia’s tourism sector is still struggling because there are not many direct flights from overseas,” he explained. “If there are more direct flights, it will mean more visitors and cheaper flights into the country.”

When young people think about jobs in tourism, it tends to evoke images of hotel receptionists and tour guides. However, there are thousands of different jobs related to tourism for students or young professionals in just about every field.

As the tourism industry develops and expands within Cambodia, doors will be opening for capable people to build and manage the supporting infrastructure.

IT skills will be necessary, as the service industry will increasingly rely on computers and the Internet to attract tourists and conduct transactions when they arrive. Language skills and soft-skills are in high demand for any job that involves daily interactions with folks from abroad. Tourism also provides a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs with aspirations of starting a business, since tourists are generally an affluent group anxious to spend money.

There are an infinite number of opportunities within tourism. But in order to attract foreigners from developed countries such as South Korea, Japan, Europe an nations and the US, it is necessary for Cambodia to build a supporting infrastructure to take care of these visitors while they are here.

This means more jobs for professionals in areas like health care, law enforcement, construction and urban planning.

As the world economy turns around, there will be many more tourism opportunities around the corner in Cambodia. But in order to capitalise on future opportunities schools must engage students in real world situations to prepare them for employment [see bright idea sidebar].

Touch Sopheak, a recent graduate from the National University of Management, said her university focused more on theory, but she had little real-world practice through internships or training programmes. “Students can reach their potential skills in tourism only if they have a chance to practice or intern.”



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