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Skills Needed in Tourist Sector

Khmer Times Share:
A bird eye’s view of tourists in Phnom Penh Airport. In the first half of 2016, a quarter of a million Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom. KT/Mai Vireak

As the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Kingdom soared to a quarter million in the first six months this year, Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism Thong Kon said the country’s tourism sector needed to attract more professionals to the industry due to the serious lack of trained tour guides and operators.
 
Mr. Khon said on Friday that Cambodia still needed more skilled tourism personnel to meet the projected number of seven million tourists visiting the country by 2020. According to the Ministry of Tourism, only 500 Cambodians had completed an Asean course on standards and service in tourism and hospitality, in order to be registered with the Asean secretariat.
 
“We need to increase our standards, as well as provide a service which is consistent with the current tourism standards in Asean,”said Mr. Khon.
 
“We still do not have enough professionals in the sector and most tour operators and guides that we have now are not very qualified,” he added.
 
The tourism minister’s statement comes in the wake of Cambodia Airports releasing data over the weekend that a total of 274,411 Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom during the first half of 2016, 20 percent more than during the same period a year before.
 
Last fortnight, an internal Ministry of Tourism report also critically commented on a MasterCard Asia-Pacific projection stating close to 50.4 million tourists from mainland China were expected to travel to destinations across Asia-Pacific this year, making up 15.7 percent of total international arrivals.
 
“Cambodia is not ready to respond to the need of the fast-growing numbers of Chinese tourists travelling across the region. It does not have enough Chinese-speaking tourist guides and hotel, food and entertainment standards are still low in the country,” it said.
 
The report also pointed out the lack of diversity in tour packages offered by operators in the country.
 
“Package tours only focus on Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and nothing else,” the report said.
 
According to Try Chhiv, deputy director general of the Ministry of Tourism, only about 20 percent of workers in the tourism industry are professional.
 
“That number would have to rise dramatically by 2020 to accommodate the growth forecast for the industry,” said Mr. Chhiv.
 
Mr. Chhiv said that though Cambodia’s tourism industry directly employed 620,000 people, the number was still small.
 
“We need at least one million people directly employed in the industry to provide good quality service to tourists that are on par with standards in Asean,” he said.

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