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Ministry rolls out refresher tourism courses after Covid lull

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Trainees at a workshop earlier this month. Preah Sihanouk Environment Department

Ministry rolls out refresher tourism courses after Covid lull

The Ministry of Tourism provides short course to staff working in tourism sectors in target provinces in order to refresh and strengthen their skills as the Kingdom expected to attract at least half a million tourists in 2021, depending on the Covid-19 situation.

Thong Rathasak, the director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Tourism Development and International Cooperation, told The Post that the government had put in place measures to prevent Covid-19 infection that tour operators and those working in the tourism sector should follow.

He said Cambodia expected to receive at least 500,000 tourists in 2021, but that number could increase if the Covid-19 pandemic is mitigated through wide distribution of vaccines. The tourism sector will re-emerge to some extent though, he predicted.

“According to a study, in 2020 international tourism worldwide dropped between 70 and 90 per cent from the previous year. In Cambodia, it dropped about 86 per cent. That is the figure by late 2020. At the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic, the number of international tourists had increased.”

“For 2021, the world has not made itself clear yet on this issue. But an early study shows the number of international tourists could bounce back to 300 million worldwide, or equal to between 20-30 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers.

“If there is a vaccine widely available, tourism could increase to between 35 to 50 per cent [of previous year’s levels],” Rathasak said.

He added that the government will provide additional training to those who work in the tourism sector.

Mean Vandeth, director of the ministry’s education department, said on January 11 that in the last six months since June 2020, approximately 13,000 workers in the tourism sector had participated in training provided by the ministry.

Most of them were from Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces along with Phnom Penh. They mostly worked in hotels, restaurants and travel.

“The ministry wanted to turn this challenge into an opportunity and boost training for those working in the tourism sector. We provide them additional training and new skills,” he said, adding that all courses were provided online.

Ho Vandy, senior consultant at Cambodia Tourism Association, told The Post on January 11 that the government was farsighted in preparing for the future by providing training to those working in this sector.

He said however that the expected international arrivals of 500,000 for this year was probably wishful thinking. He said it all depends on the pandemic situation, vaccine distribution and outbreak prevention as these remain the only relevant factors that can improve the situation.

“When aviation and transport come back to normal, these hopes will all come true. Now, it is just a dream. It is a reminder to all service providers to have plans ready to make this dream come true. They have to be prepared,” he said.

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