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Gastronomic transformation hots up as tourism reopening in sight

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If Cambodians are able to provide delectable gastronomic delights and adhere to strict quality and hygiene standards, the Kingdom would be a bona fide magnet for a bevy of visitors, Cambodia Chefs’ Association (CCA) president Long Bunhor says. SUPPLIED

Gastronomic transformation hots up as tourism reopening in sight

The Ministry of Tourism is working with development partners to provide top-of-the-line training programmes on quality-food production and rigorous hygiene standards.

This is in preparation for the upcoming reactivation of tourism over the next few months, once the Covid-19 pandemic wanes to a significant degree.

In its latest move to shape and optimise the culinary value chain of the tourism sector, the ministry organised the Online Training Workshop on National Trainers on Food Production of Hotel Services, to be held over the 14 weekdays between August 16 and September 2.

Planned in collaboration with Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (Assist), the William Angliss Institute of Australia and Thalias Hospitality Group, the event will host 27 participants, and aims to improve food production in Cambodia.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, ministry secretary of state Pak Sokhom stressed the importance of honing the skills of national-level trainers in food production.

They will then pass on the knowledge and skills acquired through this training to younger generations of Cambodians to better position the Kingdom for the reopening of international tourism once the Covid-19 crisis tapers off, he said.

“This workshop is an exercise in the implementation of the roadmap on the promotion and rehabilitation of tourism during and after the Covid-19 crisis, approved by the Royal Government,” Sokhom said, referring to a key document endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 1.

Late last month, the prime minister issued a resolution establishing a government-private working group to rehabilitate and prop up Cambodia’s tourism sector during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

With Minister of Tourism Thong Khon as chairman, the working group is tasked with leading, managing and monitoring the implementation of the 2021-2025 three-phased national tourism roadmap, the resolution reads.

Cambodia Chefs Society (CCS) president Song Teng told The Post on August 17 that the workshop would ultimately put Cambodian cuisine on the international map, piquing the curiosity of many, and impelling loads of people to travel to the Kingdom. Foreign foods could also make their debut here, he suggested.

He emphasised that the event comes timely, as Cambodia readies to open its doors to welcome international visitors fully-vaccinated against the novel coronavirus in the fourth quarter.

“Cambodia should organise plenty of food training workshops so that Cambodian chefs can gain a better grasp of food and hygiene standards, as well as promote Khmer food to foreign tourists,” Teng said.

Cambodia Chefs’ Association (CCA) president Long Bunhor stressed that if Cambodians are able to provide delectable gastronomic delights and adhere to strict quality and hygiene standards, the Kingdom would be a bona fide magnet for a bevy of visitors.

He said CCA leaders are keen to work with the ministry and Siem Reap provincial authorities, and have had a series of meetings to formulate plans and strategies for the anticipated influx of international travellers.

“More training courses will help improve the quality of Khmer food and attract foreign visitors to come to Cambodia to relish them,” Bunhor said, adding that a CCA food fair in Siem Reap is in the pipeline for early next year.

The ministry reported that it has trained 630 national-level trainers and evaluators.

In the first half of 2021, Cambodia received 102,560 international tourists, down 91.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, ministry data indicate.

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