To feed growing demand for Cambodian traditional works, Artisans Angkor, the biggest employer in Siem Reap province, is planning an increase in production in the near future.
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The semi-public company, widely considered to be the biggest producer of local crafts, will boost production of silk, among other products, a representative told Khmer Times, who explained that their popularity among tourists is rising fast.
Founded in 1992, Artisans Angkor is the country’s biggest seller of traditional arts and culture products, which are crafted by local artisans in 48 workshops across Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
It now employs 1,100 people, including 800 artisans who work with silk, stone, silver, and bronze, creating eye-catching, quality crafts sold across a wide network of shops in Siem Reap and in the capital.
Prices range from $10 for a simple souvenir to $5,000 for the most exquisite pieces, the company said, adding that Western tourists are the top buyers, particularly those from the European Union and the United States.
20,000 to 25,000 pieces created be Artisans Angkor’s craftspeople are sold every month.
“We established the company with the aim of providing training to young locals,” said Artisans Angkor CEO Pierre-Andre Romano, who spoke to journalists during a press trip funded by the EU.
“After the temples, we are Siem Reap’s biggest attraction because we have more than a half million visitors coming into our shops and workshops,” Mr Romano said.
He explained that they have a strong marketing and communications strategy that include robust partnerships with travel agents in Europe and Asia to ensure Cambodia is part of travellers’ itineraries.
The company is now eying exports to a number of markets around the world, particularly China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and various EU member states.
“The easiest will be silk because of transportation and logistics issues. Silk is very easy to export.
“The idea is that once we have enough business in Europe we will open a warehouse there,” Mr Romano said.
George Edgar, EU Ambassador to Cambodia, praised the company for its achievements.
“The EU helped in the beginning to establish the enterprise and, after three years of funding, Artisans Angkor went on to become the biggest single employer in Siem Reap province.
“It also maintains the spirit of traditional crafts alive in Cambodia, so, for us, it is a huge success,” the ambassador said.