Young Cambodians will now learn about tourism in grades 11 and 12, according to the new curriculum for public education that was launched yesterday. The development is aimed at enhancing quality in the tourism sector, officials said during a press conference.
The new curriculum covers the tourism industry, service providers and tourism sites, according to the guidelines from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Students will receive 76 hours of lessons in tourism per year.
Officials said the new curriculum would boost the quality of human resources in the tourism industry, which has been rapidly expanding over the past few years.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said that about 400,000 direct employees work in the tourism sector and, by 2020, when Cambodia expects to receive seven million tourists annually, the industry will need 800,000 staff.
“Our tourism sector has [to have] multi-skilled human resources,” he said. “We want to develop our tourism to be sustainable.
“There are not enough resources in the sector, we can not reach the phase of promoting quality in tourism.”
He added that “if they want to study in depth, they need to study further. It is the foundation to know what the tourism sector is and how tourism helps society.”
He said that in 2015, when ASEAN member countries are integrated into the ASEAN Economy Community, all ASEAN members will be required to meet certain standards within the tourism sector.
“The main problem for us currently is we lack the human resources in the tourism sector,” he said.
“Now we know that in order to promote the quality of the tourism sector, there is much work to do, but the most important is to enhance the human resources in specific skills.
“They can direct their option toward tourism after finishing high school because we need a lot of [labourers] in tourism. We need to train about 50,000 new people to serve tourists each year.”
Im Sethy, minister of education, youth and sport, said that officials in both ministries took an active role in the joint initiative to add tourism to the national curriculum.
“We insert [tourism into the curriculum] for [students] to be aware in order to build foundations,” he said.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said he applauded any initiative to promote tourism within Cambodia.
“Cambodian tourism is progressing well, and the Khmer temples are still attractive. So this curriculum will help add what is still lacking [in the sector],” he said.
“The tourism curriculum will enhance knowledge among students in some other subjects such as history and geography, because tourists need to know these subjects as well.”
A second-year tourism and hospitality student at Build Bright University in Phnom Penh, Kem Sambo, 23, said he knew very little about tourism when he studied in high school. He said he believes the addition of tourism to the national curriculum will give students a wider range of choices.
“It will educate youths about the development of tourism, and I believe it will be useful for all Cambodian students,” he said.