Six financial institutions are offering loans specially created to help students finance their education in tourism-related fields, the Ministry of Tourism announced this week.
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In a statement released on Wednesday, the ministry said Acleda Bank, Canadia Bank, Futaba Microfinance, Hattha Kaksekar, Kredit MFI and CMK have joined a government-led financing scheme unveiled last month.
The programme seeks to tackle a perceived shortage of tourism professionals by enhancing students’ access to credit that will be used to finance courses at universities and vocational centres.
The process involved in securing the loans is simple, and the conditions are being kept low, including having no collateral requirements, the ministry said.
Repayment periods will be around 7 years, with borrowers having access to various options to pay back the loans at low interest rates, it added.
Try Chhiv, deputy director general at the Ministry of Tourism, told Khmer Times last month that the programme will encourage more financial institutions to develop loans tailored specifically to the needs of students.
“Our policy continues to be to boost the number of tourism professionals in the country, and we believe this is an excellent way of doing so,” Mr Chhiv said.
He said that to keep up with demand in the tourism industry, Cambodia needs to train at least 50,000 professionals per year.
“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.”
So Phonnary, executive vice president of Acleda Bank, told Khmer Times that last year her bank started offering loans of up to $2,500 without collateral for students that already have stable jobs.
“Up to now, we have given 33 loans, for a total of $30,000, to help students acquire various skills, including tourism, accounting and engineering,” she said.
The repayment periods are based on the duration of the courses plus a maximum of 12 months.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, praised the programme, saying it will boost human resources in the industry.
“It is a great opportunity for students to strengthen their skills, and it is very much needed because the hospitality sector in Cambodia is now lacking professionals, particularly in hotels, guesthouses, airlines, travel agencies and restaurants.”