The second Asean conference on the mutual recognition of tourism professionals, held in Phnom Penh, ended yesterday, with participating experts agreeing on the need to create education and training programmes more in line with labour market demands in the digital era.
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The International Conference on Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals serves as a forum for Asean member countries to discuss ways of improving training in the tourism industry and form better professionals. The two-day event is attended by education providers, tourism experts, development partners, and private companies throughout Asean.
During the event, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said technology is bound to cause a huge disruption in coming years, completely changing the demands of the labour market, and stressed the need for Asean member countries to adapt to this new reality.
The minister explained that traditional methodologies and training will soon be obsolete, and that new training programmes need to be developed with involvement from the private sector.
“The current trend of rapid technological advancements is creating challenges as well as opportunities. Asean member states need to prepare for the digital era and create proper education and training programmes that focus on the right skills,” he said.
Giving a closing speech to the event, the Cambodian Prime Minister, Samdech Hun Sen, urged local banks and microfinance institutions to consider creating special credit schemes to help students finance their education in a tourism-related field. The premier said having access to loans with attractive interest rates will boost the workforce in the tourism sector.
“With the number of tourists visiting the Kingdom increasing rapidly, the tourism industry is in dire need of more professionals,” Mr Hun Sen said.
The first iteration of the International Conference on Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals was held in Indonesia in 2016.
The Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals, also known as MRA-TP, was adopted in 2009 as a key initiative to support the establishment of the Asean Economic Community, with its main objective being to facilitate the mobility of certified tourism professionals across the Asean region, and exchange experiences on best practices in creating and running education and training programmes.
In 2017, Asean countries received 125 million international tourists, an increase of 6.5 percent year-on-year, with intra-Asean travellers accounting for 42 percent of those visitors. The industry generated revenues of $93 billion, the equivalent of 12 percent of the combined GDP in Asean.