Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New travel agent eyes study market

New travel agent eyes study market

New travel agent eyes study market

Y OUNG entrepeneur Sophana Pich believes in making a splash.

He had no hesitation in plunging in to start his own travel agency when the opportunity presented itself. And when the 22-year-old took his staff for a Mekong cruise on Sept 26 to celebrate the opening of the Cambodia Travel Group he was the first over the side of the boat into the murky brown waters for a celebratory swim.

Phana stepped in to take over the clients of the Cambodia Australia Travel Group when owner Stephen Griffiths decided to leave the country.

He and partner Therakoan They sunk $11,000 each to start the new company and switched premises to the prime location of 128 Street near the Central Market.

"I've been thinking about having my own travel agency since I was 12. I thought it wasn't going to happen until I was 30 or 40 but it happened a lot sooner than I thought. But then that's often the way with me," said Phana, a father of two.

He will be looking to keep the old company's close links with Australia and claims to offer the cheapest returns there in town at $780 with Qantas.

The company is also unique, Phana says, in offering special packages to send the children of the well-heeled to college in Sydney, Australia, in what he sees as an increasing trend as Cambodia develops in prosperity.

The package includes visa, air ticket and one year's study at the New South Wales Business and English College but isn't cheap at something approaching $8,000. There is also a scheme to lodge the students with Cambodian families in Cabramatta for $125 a week.

Another area with potential, Phana believes, are cruises along the Mekong for foreign tourists. The opening party cruise took in Kep Thmay 16 km south of Phnom Penh which has become a popular spot for weekending Khmers but is virtually unknown to outside visitors.

There are a profusion of riverside restuarants and picnic huts set in picturesque surroundings which are normally accessed by car. The area is named after the famous seaside retreat in Kampot and is itself noted for Banh Chaew a light omelette stuffed with beef and bean sprouts, topped off with a tangy peanut sauce.

Phana is considering starting daily cruises there for $25 a head, including three meals.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in