The rise in number of foreign tourists in the kingdom also means an increase in the number of job opportunities for Khmers. However, has this demand for skilled workers in the industry been met? A newly opened vocational training school in Phnom Penh tries to provide an answer, write Agnes Alpuerto and Say Tola.
Over the years, Cambodia has stepped up from being a mere jumping-off point for travelers who wanted to journey through Indochina. It has, slowly but consistently, become the main destination itself. In fact, the number of foreign tourists coming in to the kingdom continues to rise. In the first eight months of 2018, the country has already welcomed 3.9 travelers, with 1.2 million of them coming from China.
However, as the tourism industry grows, the demand for professional and skilled tourism and hospitality workers also expands.
“And we acknowledge the fact Cambodia currently lacks this. We want to see many Khmers getting involved in the tourism industry because Cambodia is getting more and more visitors. And the tourism here has also grown bigger. People no longer just visit Siem Reap or Sihanoukville. They’re also now touring around Phnom Penh,” said Mr Yang Shuo, chairman of the WuYi Association in Cambodia.
And to further push forward the burgeoning tourism, the human resources should also be equipped with the right knowledge, skills and attitude.
This very principle is what made the establishment of the World Youth Tourism and Hospitality School (WYTHS) possible. Founded through the cooperation between Yuetai International Group and WuYi Association, WYTHS officially opened its first campus in Phnom Penh yesterday, November 26.
“We currently have 100 students. We provide them with all the facilities and equipment they need to learn and be leaders in tourism and hospitality when they graduate. All the students here are studying for free after they passed our exams and interviews,” said school principal Ky Yean Houy.
The school plans to get as many as 400 students in September 2019 – all of them will train for free.
It is the objective of the school to provide high-quality education with professional teachers and advanced facilities to talented students from impoverished families in the rural areas. The school adheres to its credo, “knowledge changes one’s fate”.
WYTHS boasts its spacious classrooms, computer and speech laboratories, kitchen, library, mini-hotel room and dormitory.
Currently, the school offers certificates in Front Office, Housekeeping, Hospitality Facility Maintenance, Security, Food Production, Bakery and Pastry and Food and Beverage Service. All these courses run for two years, and are taught in English and Chinese.
“In the future, we really want to transform this school into a professional training center and eventually into a university. We want Khmers to learn here. We’re also getting some connections in China so we can provide cross-programmes, which means that our students can study here for two years and then spend their junior and senior years in Chinese universities. That will ensure the quality of their learning and experience,” noted Mr Yang Shuo.