Individuals from seven community protected areas in Kampong Thom province have received training in job skills related to tourism, including tour guide, hospitality and cooking skills.

These skills will contribute to the improvement of their community’s livelihoods so that they can help to strengthen natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. The training sessions took place at the provincial environment department under the auspices of the ministries of environment and tourism.

Addressing the closing session of tour guide training on February 6, environment ministry undersecretary of state Khvay Atiya noted that Cambodia now has 73 protected areas covering 7.3 million hectares.

He said the areas formed the basis for the establishment of communities so that they will contribute to the protection of natural resources for future generations.

He added that local development contributed to the improvement of community livelihoods and the incomes of people living in protected areas in Cambodia.

The training focused on guide-visitor interactions, hospitality and cooking skills.

The sessions ran from February 1-5 and reflected the need for the development of job skills and professions that will increase the ability of all people to apply for better job opportunities and improve their economic situations. The trainers were from the tourism ministry and a total of 20 trainees from the seven community protected areas in the province took part in the programme.

“Recognising the importance of these skills, we collaborated with public and private institutions and development partners to provide them with opportunities to generate sufficient income to feed their families. In particular, it enables their children to go to school and will reduce pressure on natural resources and biodiversity, and increase their love of those areas as well,” he said.

The environment ministry said it had established the project with the aim of encouraging the residents of the community protected areas to assist with conservation work by creating jobs for communities and households that rely on tourism based on a healthy environment with rich biodiversity.

Seng Sot, deputy head of the environment ministry’s General Department of Local Communities, noted that the project implementation team had run skills training sessions for the province’s 17 community protected areas.

He added that 11 of the communities learned about playing traditional music in collaboration with the provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts; two communities also completed motorcycle repair courses in collaboration with the Kampong Thom Polytechnic Institute; 14 communities completed village veterinary courses in collaboration with the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and 20 members of communities and four officials from the environment department completed 13 classes on tourism, hospitality and cooking in collaboration with the tourism ministry.