The Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) is teaming up with the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (Cata) and major hotels in the capital on human resource training as well as skills and knowledge exchange.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed to this effect, which also covers research on the needs of international travellers while in the Kingdom, as well as tourism capacity building and innovation to assist progress in the industry for the “new normal”.

RAC president Sok Touch told The Post on December 14 that the most important point of the MoU was to imbue workers with tangible skills for the post-Covid world.

He suggested Cambodia ruminate on its approach to restoration and future development of the industry, as well as strengthen the resilience of key segments such as man-made and health tourism, and forge sustainable linkages between them.

As an example, Touch noted that although tourist arrivals in Thailand and Vietnam had historically far eclipsed those in Cambodia, the Kingdom encountered more issues from the sector than desired, while progress was lacklustre.

He argued that neighbouring countries know how to manage matters such as pricing, sanitation and gastronomic experiences, and can hence offer top-notch tourism services.

He said the MoU would focus on four key visions – quality, affordability, delectability, and service with a smile – to give the industry a lift and enable it to make even better advancements.

And in a bid to prop up the local food business scene, the RAC has assigned three people to study the cuisines of the world, he added.

“In due course, we will select experienced people in five-star hotels to cook some of the dishes that were looked into, and invite embassies over for a taste. If they say the food is palatable, we will start the training right away,” Touch said.

Cata president Chhay Sivlin said the tourism sector needs more and better training partners, noting that Covid has hit businesses hard and put workers out of practice, and that without acquiring the new knowledge and skills required in the coming era, performance will be impaired.

She highlighted that Cata and the RAC have rolled out various programmes directed at workers nationwide in all fields of tourism and hospitality.

She added that the hotels were included in the MoU as representatives of the industry, calling them “leaders who have to actively participate in this training to share knowledge and experience in other areas”.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance is also earmarking funds – co-financed by private banks and microfinance institutions – for the hotel and restaurant sector in key tourist destinations to shore up businesses and deliver training and tourism development.

The plan was revealed by a senior official at a December 14 press conference on “Strategies to restore and boost Cambodia’s economic growth in living with Covid-19 in the ‘new normal’”.