The Disability Action Council (DAC) calls for investment in training people with disabilities in tourism-related skills, saying it would increase their employment opportunities and align with government policy.

DAC secretary-general Em Chan Makara made the call during a September 15 seminar, held in Kratie province to discuss ways to alleviate the poverty of people with disabilities by promoting employment growth in the tourist sector. He told the assembled delegates that the tourism industry had tremendous potential for contributing to a prosperous Cambodia.

“Investment for people with disabilities in tourism would be an excellent way of providing them with decent careers as vendors, or the owners of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants or entertainment venues,” he said.

He said the government had always encouraged the private sector to provide employment opportunities to people with disabilities and to fulfil the obligations stipulated in the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He suggested that they support integration by including people with disabilities in their business activities.

He reminded attendees of the law which states that a minimum of two per cent of workforce within a state institution shall be people with disabilities. The figure for the private sector is one per cent, he noted.

Hor Sarun, secretary of state of the Ministry of Tourism, said officials had issued guidelines on the promotion of the rights of people with disabilities, including encouraging the owners of beer gardens and restaurants to ensure access for them to be able to sing or perform in their venues.

He said the ministry urged tourism departments across the country to implement this work by preparing commendations for business owners who contribute to reducing poverty and unemployment rates among the disabled.

Kratie deputy governor Tuy Bun Sereyroth Mony said the province would pay close attention to creating jobs and providing access to the disabled.

He added that the provincial administration encouraged all tourism-related businesses to provide employment opportunities to people with disabilities without discrimination, according to their knowledge and skill.

Chan Makara of the DAC said that although Cambodia has achieved good results in the field of welfare for people with disabilities, they still face many other obstacles that need to be addressed, such as the lack of appropriate coordination, social attitudes and discrimination.

He requested that the tourism sector improve facilities for the disabled, pregnant women, the elderly and parents with small children by designating parking spaces for them and ensuring that bathrooms and other facilities were convenient for the use of all visitors, regardless of circumstances.