Some 300 young people in Siem Reap are receiving six months of training in hospitality, including front office, housekeeping, and food and beverage services, at Angkor University from the Siem Reap Tourism Club Association. The initiative aims to contribute to the revitalisation and recovery of tourism services post-pandemic.

The Siem Reap Provincial Administration said the training began on May 23, with Pak Sokhom, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, Siem Reap governor Tea Seiha, and leaders of relevant departments and many municipal authorities in attendance.

Sokhom described the training programme as one with excellent teacher’s resources, noting that the ministry’s partners are working with the Swisscontact-backed Hospitality Kampuchea (HOKA) Project Management Committee to prepare a full-time training programme.

He noted that the Spoon Hospitality and Tourism Training School in Siem Reap province, the Prey Veng Tourism Resource Centre, the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Technical Education Centre, and the Siem Reap Tourism Club Association are all providing training using HOKA’s programmes and training materials.

“According to our future plans, we will push the HOKA Hospitality Training to become a national training programme in line with the Cambodian National Qualifications System, which is recognised by stakeholders. This will create job opportunities for young people to get decent incomes and offers a clear skill development pathway,” he said.

Phillip Seth Kao, president of the Siem Reap Tourism Club Association (STC), said the training was designed to fill the gaps in the province’s tourism and hospitality workforce, which had been severely impacted by the global pandemic.

“During the course of the Covid-19 crisis, a total of 32,811 employees from 2,233 tourism-related businesses nationwide were laid off or had their contracts suspended, as of December 31, 2021,” he added.

According to Seth Kao, Prime Minister Hun Sen recommended that training opportunities be provided in order to contribute to the promotion of “green gold tourism” as a sector which would contribute to the achievement of Cambodia’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Governor Seiha explained that the training is important as it will provide professional tourism skills to young people.

“The provincial authorities have also been strengthening and expanding the scope of tourism through the construction of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, the electricity and clean water supplies, public lighting, and improving the beauty of Siem Reap town,” he said.

According to the tourism ministry, for 2023, Cambodia expects to receive about four million international tourists and around 15 million domestic tourists through the launch of the “Visit Cambodia 2023” campaign, the “We are the Hosts” campaign, and the “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service and Good Hospitality” contest movement.

For students from remote areas, the STC has arranged accommodation near Angkor University. During the six-month training, students will receive theoretical and practical lessons in the classroom for two months, and then spend the next four months completing internships in their respective fields at hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Siem Reap.

In 2024, the tourism ministry will open two vocational schools: one in Phnom Penh and the other in the coastal Preah Sihanouk province. They are expected to become centres of excellence with regard to tourism training.