Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry trains over 70K tourism workers, expects skills gap to narrow to desired levels by 2024

Ministry trains over 70K tourism workers, expects skills gap to narrow to desired levels by 2024

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The number of direct jobs in the Cambodian tourism sector in 2022 was roughly half of what it had been in 2019, and international visitors are now at about 70 per cent of pre-Covid levels, resulting in a notable shortage of skilled professionals in the industry. Hong Menea

Ministry trains over 70K tourism workers, expects skills gap to narrow to desired levels by 2024

The tourism ministry is said to have trained more than 70,000 tourism workers in a push to combat a post-Covid-19 shortage of skilled professionals, as international visitors to the Kingdom near 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

But with expectations that the travel industry will see a full recovery to pre-Covid norms by 2025 or 2026, some observers fear that qualified workers are lagging behind demand growth, despite the best efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and other stakeholders.

To put things in perspective, the number of direct jobs in the Cambodian tourism sector fell “52.4 per cent” from around 630,000 in 2019 to 300,000 in 2020, before dropping an additional one-quarter to 225,000 in 2021, and then jumping back two-fifths to 320,000 in 2022 – still roughly half of the 2019 figure, according to data reported by the ministry.

Spokesman Top Sopheak confirmed to The Post on April 20 that a training scheme under his ministry has groomed more than 70,000 people, and although he acknowledged the lack of skilled personnel relative to the increasing demand for tourism services, he suggested that the gap may narrow to pre-Covid levels by next year.

The ministry is working with “utmost caution”, in collaboration with the private sector, “to train people in these professions, understanding that professionalism might mean the difference between life and death in the field”, he stated, opining that – in general – each worker should choose a speciality and follow a particular career path.

“Professionalism is exemplified in the effectiveness of providing a cordial environment in the service of any customer. A decrease in professionalism undermines services,” he cautioned.

Meanwhile, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin claimed that a considerable proportion of newer tourism training experts appear not to have a keen grasp of what the industry needs, making it all the more difficult to upskill and reskill the workforce.

She explained that many of the tourism professionals who left the industry during Covid to pursue other careers have yet to return, while newly-trained personnel are still struggling due to lack of experience and practical knowledge.

“Major tourist destinations such as Siem Reap as well as the coastal and northeastern regions are facing a shortage of such professionals,” Sivlin shared, extending her appreciation to the ministry for its training services.

According to the ministry, Cambodia welcomed 837,446 international visitors in the first two months of the year, nearly nine times the 95,321 recorded in 2022, but still 67.28 per cent of the 1,244,689 posted in January-February 2019.

The majority of the travellers had their purpose of visit marked as “holiday”, at 654,116 or 78.11 per cent, followed by “business” (161,015; 19.23%) and “others” (22,315; 2.66%).

The breakdowns for the corresponding two-month periods of 2022 and 2019 were: “holiday” (64,899; 68.08%), “business” (25,011; 26.24%), “others” (5,411; 5.68%) for the former; and “holiday” (1,038,679; 83.45%), “business” (171,117; 13.75%), “others” (34,893; 2.80%) for the latter.


  • Ministry taking steps over Thai ‘replica’ of Angkor Wat

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has dispatched experts to inspect the ongoing construction of a temple in Wat Phu Man Fah, located in Thailand’s Buriram province. This temple appears to be a replica of Cambodia’s renowned Angkor Wat. The ministry said

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • PM to open new Siem Reap int’l airport December 1

    Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders would jointly participate in the official opening of the new Chinese-invested Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on December 1. The airport symbolises a new page in the history of Cambodian aviation, which will be able to welcome long-distance flights to

  • Minimum wage set at $204, after Sep 28 vote

    The minimum wage for factory workers in the garment, footwear and travel goods industries for 2024 has been decided at $204 per month, with the government contributing $2. Following several negotiation sessions, the tripartite talks reached an agreement during a September 28 vote, with 46 of 51 votes supporting the $202 figure.

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former