Cambodia and Turkey will sign a new agreement on tourism cooperation in October, with the kingdom hoping to benefit from Turkey’s vast experience as a popular vacation destination.
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During a recent meeting in Phnom Penh, Tourism Minister Thong Khon asked Ayda Ünlü, Turkey’s Ambassador in Cambodia, to consider establishing a training centre for tourism professionals in Cambodia to aid the development of the industry.
Mr Khon said both countries will sign a memorandum of understanding on the tourism sector in October, stressing also that they will work together to foment the creation of a direct air link between Ankara and Phnom Penh as well as to enhance trade and investment.
Ms Ünlü said supporting the creation of a direct flight between Cambodia and Phnom Phom is one of her top priorities as ambassador.
Cambodia now has 24 vocational training centres and schools to form professionals in the tourism sector, said Try Chhiv, deputy director-general at the Ministry of Tourism, adding that several universities also offer tourism-related courses.
He said two more tourism vocational training centre will be built before the end of 2020, one in Phnom Penh and the other in Sihanoukville.
To keep up with current demand in the industry, the kingdom needs to train at least 50,000 professionals per year, Mr Chhiv said.
“In the hospitality and service sectors, Cambodia has a dearth of human resources for certain skills. We have a shortage of chefs in hotels and restaurants,” he said.
“We are trying to train as many professionals as possible. Our goal is to create jobs for young people and provide them with applicable skills.”
According to Thourn Sinan, chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association, the industry is some 500,000 professionals short. He said most hotel owners in Battambang, Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville are finding great difficulty filling up vacancies in their establishments.
“Most hotels have good premises, but they lack qualified staff. Investors think having a good property is everything. They don’t give enough importance to their staff,” he said.
Cambodia’s tourism sector earned $3.63 billion in revenue last year, an increase of 13.3 percent, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism.
Last year, international travellers visiting the kingdom spent 5.6 million, 11.8 percent more than in 2016. Cambodia now expects to welcome at least 6 million international tourists in 2018, 7 million by 2020, and 10 million by 2025.