Cambodia Impact Explorer’s Jitka Markova, one of the platform’s co-founders, is on a mission to re-invent travelling and bridge the gap between tourists with values to cherish and the hidden offerings tucked inside forests and mountains of Cambodia.
Impact Explorer is a platform that allows tourists visiting Cambodia to experience community-based tourism that could both benefit the livelihoods and employment opportunities of locally-run community businesses in the rural areas of the Kingdom.
Bringing new perspectives to travelling
It serves as a homestay booking platform for tourists to explore the hidden gems of Cambodia and at the same time allows tourists to get involved in projects that seek to better the areas the tourists visit.
This in return results in generating employment and triggers development in the said area.
A part of Conscious Tourism Cambodia, the organisation facilitates initiatives that lead to the development of sustainable community-based tourism projects in Cambodia. Believing in the impact of changing the future through our actions, Jitka and her team have poured their heart’s content into this initiative.
“One way to look at this site is, it serves a market place that connects independent travellers, people who are seeking experiences to do with eco-tourism and another way to help the community generate income through tourism,” Jitka says, comparing it to other similar sites such as Booking.com and Airbnb.
“It’s an online platform for good,” she adds, highlighting the mission and vision the platform is imbued with.
The journey began in 2017 where initially it was branded as EcoTourism Cambodia and through their experience, Jitka and her team realise more work has to be done in terms of realising what tourists really wanted.
“The tourists wanted to hear more about the projects as well as the people behind the project and ways to help the community,” Jitka says, triggering the start of Impact Explorer in order to spread awareness on eco-tourism and to share the stories of people involved in it.
Impact Explorer serves not just as a startup running a booking platform but also as a medium that trains local community in knowledge and skills to welcome visitors. Jitka explains that international tourists often expect high-quality photos and enjoys engaging in long read blogs to find out more.
Tailoring the ideal experience
“There are many ways people can choose from to decide on the trip they want to make,” Jitka says.
Tourists planning their upcoming trip to the Kingdom can tailor their trip based on the experience they are looking for; exploring remote areas and participating in wildlife activities, heading to the Tonle Sap or even getting involved in projects.
The Tumpoun Project, that takes place in Ratanakiri, is one project Jitka cherishes as the startup’s success story involves their collaboration with the Tumpoun indigenous people. They worked together with the chief and the Tumpoun community to bring about tourists to be a part of the experience and heritage.
Often these come in lunches, or activities such as rice farming and weaving. Impact Explorer also caters to tours and tourists who subscribe to the tour package will even be able to stay a couple of nights in the village.
The Yak Loum lake, a popular tourist spot located approximately 3 miles from the provincial capital, Banlung, the beautiful lake occupies a 4,000-year-old volcanic crater is run by five indigenous tribes.
Impact Explorer collaborates with the communities around the lake in creating Tampoun tours and at the same time training the communities in designing the ideal tourism experience as well as interacting with tourists arriving in the area as well.
Spreading awareness and encouraging more travel
hile Jitka hopes to encourage more of independent travelling, Impact Explorer also caters to groups hoping to travel to the said areas. The blog present on the website provides information on how to make the best of the trip as well preparing the right information on how to behave as well as preparing for heritage and culture that is unbeknownst to the newbie to these parts of Cambodia.
Jitka notes that there have been an increasing level of awareness among the youth in city areas such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and she hopes to address the issue of translating these awareness into behavior in getting the young people to act upon their curiosity on eco-tourism and sustainable travelling.
She also believes that through these tours and travelling into the hidden gems of the Kingdom, more and more Cambodians will be more proud of their heritage and their identity as a Cambodia.