The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has launched training courses to strengthen the hospitality and English language skills of 100 national travel agents, with the intention of contributing to the promotion of its world heritage site.
The first session – conducted by the ANA’s Angkor Training Centre and the Angkor Tourism Development Department on February 8 – offered hospitality skills for officials and staff working in this field.
The training aims to provide the right skills to the ANA’s travel agents, both to warmly welcome visitors and to provide service of a standard which would promote Angkor.
ANA deputy head Long Kosal, who presided over the opening ceremony, said the training courses would provide skills that were very important for its officers and tourism agents, when considering both the quality of services and the impact of tourists on the ancient temples.
“We have to improve our capabilities to ensure that tourists visiting Angkor have the best experiences, while having the least impact on the site,” he said.
He said the training would focus on four topics, including general hospitality for tourism agents, temple visitation regulations, solving challenges at the temples and finally improving English language skills for professional use.
Kosal added that this was internal training for ANA agents that would provide them with the skills to improve visitor experiences at Angkor, because they were the front line that communicated directly with guests.
“This is the first time we have offered training this specialised. We are teaching facial expressions and appropriate behaviour when communicating with guests, for example. We are also training them in first aid. Sometimes visitors have health problems, so knowing first aid is essential,” he said.
He added that the first round of trainees would go on to instruct their colleagues and that thanks to this method he expected the training to reach at least 300 members of the ANA team.
Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said the training would enhance the hospitality skills of those working in tourism, particularly in the new era of Covid-19.
“The ANA has done a lot of work related to improving the infrastructure of Angkor Wat and we need to be consistent between the planners and the executives, especially the tour operators and travel agencies who provide services there.
“Guests need to know about the new facilities, and plans need to be made for the post-Covid influx of visitors we expect,” he said.
Vandy also stressed the importance of those who organise tour packages.
“They have to be aware of any changes in the new context. Visitors need be able to communicate with relevant institutions, and it must be clear to them that they should hire a licensed guide from the Ministry of Tourism.
“The reason is these people go through training is so they can provide superior guest experiences, while remaining in accordance with the rules,” he said.