Community-based tourism is based on more than just building facilities to entertain visitors, but on rich natural resources.
In order to prevent these resources from being lost, the Ministry of Environment often incorporates areas into ecotourism communities. By doing so, the residents of the area gain extra incomes and are less reliant on the use of natural resources to provide their livelihoods.
Located in Kampong Trach district, Kampot province, the Anlung Pring Protected Landscape community is an area with diverse tourism potential. There are many different aspects of nature for guests to enjoy, and they can gain a good insight into the lives of local residents.
Say Am, who handles the accounts for the ecotourism community, said that prior to the onset of Covid-19 – in 2018-2019 – the community’s joint account received over $1,000 each year.
“The income was reinvested into the community to preserve its beauty,” she added.
From 2020 to 2022, they saw very few visitors. Consequently, incomes plummeted.
“In January, we finally had some visitors return – about 50 came to stay here. It is not many, but it is a great improvement on last year,” said Am.
She is hopeful that tourist numbers will return to 2019 levels.
“If so, we will improve the services we can offer and will be able to preserve our traditions,” she concluded.
Soth Lan, head of tourism group in the Anlung Pring community, said they offer many unique services, most of which will be new experiences for tourists, whether domestic or international.
“We provide community-style accommodation and local cuisine. We can show visitors how to make Khmer noodles or distill traditional wine. They can also try their hand at weaving, or we can take them bird-watching, or to explore the caves in the area,” he added.
“Making Khmer noodles, weaving and distilling rice wine are all activities that local people have been doing since ancient times, which they are not so commonly seen nowadays. Tourists can not only see us doing these things, but can try their hand at doing it themselves. This also helps them to understand the community and our way of life,” he continued.
Lan said the community tries to provide a wide range of inexpensive options to guests.
“If we can attract people with our traditional skills, then our cultural identity will not be lost,” he added.
The Anlung Pring community was established in 2016 with the aim of preserving the culture and traditions of the community, as well as a number of rare species of birds in the area.