Trainers and tourism industry staff in five provinces have received instruction in professional hospitality skills from Swiss NGO Swisscontact since 2021. The project will run until 2024.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the vocational training programme targets five provinces – Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Oddar Meanchey and Banteay Meanchey.

The training is provided through the Cambodia Hospitality Training Program (HoKa), thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Swisscontact and the ministry of Tourism.

The signing of the MoU took place on November 16 at the Ministry of Tourism in the presence of Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and Rajiv Pradhan, country director of Swisscontact.

Ministry secretary of state Pak Sokhom said HoKa will contribute to the government’s goals, by providing vocational for young people and low-level professionals in the target provinces.

“This training will assist them to find decent jobs and increase their incomes, in accordance with the government’s roadmap for the rehabilitation and restoration of tourism following the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also improve the tourism industry’s performance overall, by improving human capital through sustainable hospitality education and training,” he said.

Sokhom added that in the four years from 2021-2024, the project is expected to provide instruction to 150 hospitality trainers and 780 entry level staff throughout the five provinces.

An implementation agreement was also signed by Hoka, Swisscontact and the five provincial tourism departments.

The agreement approved a three year action plan and budget to promote hospitality training in priority areas, including for receptionists, housekeepers, community guides and food and beverage services – including barista and chef skills.

Chuob Ratana, director of the Department of Tourism Development Planning and head of the Secretariat of the Hoka Project Management Committee, said the five provinces had been selected for the training project as tourism in these areas had been slower to recover. This had led to many workers migrating abroad to find work.

He said that as the industry recovered, many businesses were struggling to find skilled staff.

“One of the reasons for the course is to improve the skills of those workers who remained in their provinces, as well as to give those without experience the skills they need to enter the industry. The number of businesses which are reopening – and of new ones opening – has grown significantly in recent months,” he added.

He said there had been a noticeable trend in domestic tourism – the popularity of destinations around the Tonle Sap Lake provinces, especially Siem Reap, Battambang, and Pursat. While Siem Reap traditionally had a strong hospitality sector, skilled workers were required in the other provinces.

He added that in the past, Swisscontact’s projects were run mostly in the northeastern provinces of the country, and it wanted to reach the northwest.

HoKa is a component of the Skills Development Programme funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and implemented by Swisscontact, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism.