Tourism Ministry officials outlined plans yesterday for two new vocational training facilities for the country’s growing tourism sector. Try Chhiv, deputy director general of the Ministry of Tourism, said the government will build the first school in Phnom Penh with a capacity of 1,000 students, while the second will be built in Sihanoukville for 300 students.
He added that the project was made possible thanks to an $11.7 million dollar loan from the French government. “We are now preparing construction plans and we expect the schools to be finished by the end of 2018 and for the training of students to start at the beginning of 2019,” he said, adding that a contractor for the project had not yet been selected.
The schools will focus on three areas of vocational training, preparing students to work as travel agency employees, tour guides and hotel services specialists, Chhiv said. He said the aim was to raise the skills standard of Cambodia’s tourism sector to match the requirements of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), allowing Cambodians to work throughout the region.
“We need to build up our skills to match those of the AEC so that our tourism workers can satisfy the work requirements of other countries in ASEAN,” he said. On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said during a speech announcing the Sea Festival later this month that improving Cambodia’s tourism sector was one of the main priorities of the government, saying tourism industry was like “green gold” for the Kingdom.
“The government has focused on tourism as a priority sector,” he said. “It is green gold as it is an important contributor to the social and economic development of the country and provides many job opportunities.”
Tourism Ministry officials said in October that Cambodia was facing a shortage of tourism professionals and would need close to a million total hospitality workers to deal with the expected 7 million tourists visiting the country every year by 2020.
Hen Chanly, president of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, said most local tourism professionals currently had received little training and relied on experience rather than any formal qualifications.
“If we have a tourism school, our professionals would receive greater recognition for their skills and stratify the demands of international tourists instead of only relying on their experience,” he said. “The school should also cooperate with tourist agencies so that students can learn certain skills while gaining practical experience.”