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Digital literacy key to post-Covid rebound for tourism sector: Khon

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National Assembly member Hun Many (front, left) and tourism minister Thong Khon (front, right) at the opening ceremony on August 22. FRESH NEWS

Digital literacy key to post-Covid rebound for tourism sector: Khon

Promoting digital literacy in the tourism sector amid the ever-evolving technological era will be crucial to bringing back international travellers after more than two years of pandemic shutdown, according to Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.

The minister made the remark on August 22 during the mixed-format opening ceremony for a tourism digital literacy training programme for Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province, attended by about 300 people, including representatives from ministries, institutions, local and foreign development partners, and the private sector, as well as trainees.

Khon stressed that digitalisation has become an important topic in the discourse of tourism development, amid rapid technological advances and growing demand for national and international tourists.

The Covid-19 crisis catalysed an increasing necessity of the timely adoption of emerging technologies to ensure the competitiveness of the Cambodian tourism sector against the backdrop of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said, adding that positive momentum to this effect would require the active participation of the private sector.

The minister said tourism digital literacy is essential to the cultivation of new skills to leverage advanced technologies and innovations in support of the creation and management of smart tourism initiatives in Cambodia and development of the overall national tourism landscape “in accordance with need and practical realities”.

Khon called on public and private tourism sector players to pursue professional development, and for educators to regularly update their curriculums to meet the needs of the industry.

He commented that tourism, dubbed “green gold” by the government, has historically been a major driver of economic growth: increasing national revenues, providing employment and improving livelihoods.

However, over the past couple of years, Covid has hampered the tourism industry in Cambodia, the region and the world, decimating international travel and forcing businesses to downscale or shutter, causing a series of major socio-economic shocks.

Speaking at the same event, Hun Many, chairman of the National Assembly’s Seventh Commission which covers tourism among other areas, said digital literacy has become a basic need for people of all ages to satisfy their evolving individual needs, as new technologies require increasingly sophisticated skills and advanced knowledge.

He elaborated that changes in socio-economic structures have manifested as changes in the needs of individuals, families and institutions that require thorough understanding of ongoing social phenomena and trends to meaningfully improve the quality of life, education, work and doing business.

Many said the government still regards tourism as an important contributor to national economic growth despite the severe economic strain from Covid-19.

“In this context, the adoption of technology is absolutely necessary and timely in line with the Royal Government’s direction to build a digital economy and society, to ensure long-term growth for Cambodia with the continued promotion of diversification in all priority areas to increase competitiveness and ensure inclusive sustainable development towards the achievement of visions for 2030 and 2050,” he said.

Many said that his commission has “always supported” the initiatives of the tourism ministry and private sector geared towards the restoration and promotion of tourism, especially when it comes to capacity building for digital development.

He said that such capacity building would better enable the tourism sector to adopt emerging technologies and level-up the quality of hospitality services and facilitate their provision.

The tourism ministry reported that, in the first seven months of this year, Cambodia received more than 740,000 international visitors, marking a 560 per cent rise year-on-year.

Siem Reap alone booked 1,242,854 domestic trips during the period, up 890 per cent year-on-year, of which Cambodians and foreign residents accounted for 1,159,000 and 83,854, respectively, rising by 799 per cent and 1,352 per cent.

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