Hospitality Kampuchea or HoKa is a training programme aimed at supporting skills development in developing or emerging tourism destinations in Cambodia funded by the Swiss Agency for Development.

HoKa, working in collaboration with the Skill Development Programme (SDP) of the Ministry of Tourism, has trained 884 professionals and core trainers in the first six months of this year, 596 of them women.

The students came from the target provinces in the northeast and the provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake.

“I think this kind of training is really good for me. It saves time and I can study in my community with some help

from the internet. Where I live is far from school and it’s difficult to find vocational schooling, so this program is important for me and my whole community,” said Pheng Songlini, a trainee in the barista programme from Mondulkiri province.

The skills learned have not only provided some of the trainees with job opportunities and a decent income, but they have also enabled them to become business owners or trainers with the programme.

Ul Vitou, is a core trainer and he was a HoKa trainee in 2018. Now he is also the owner of the Coffee Time in Kratie province.

“After I finished the training, I used the knowledge to continue teaching my staff. HoKa provided us with a wide range of technical skills, including soft skills, entrepreneurship and knowledge about environmental protections and climate change,” he said.

He said that learning the skills wasn’t an easy task and that it required real effort. Learning to become a trainer, however, was even more difficult.

“To become a trainer, you really need to understand pedagogy, theory and teaching techniques,” he said.

Vitou added that training in the global Covid-19 context required more flexibility for adapting between the direct training and training online.

“Finally, I’ve become a core trainer recognised by the tourism ministry. I want to help my community via sharing my skills and the knowledge that I have learned,” he added.

Christain Volder-Ide, director of the Swiss Contact Skills Development Program, said he was excited to be involved in training youths and helping them achieve their goals.

“It is amazing for me see youths study, grow up, develop their confidence, knowledge and skills until they can achieve their goals and become leaders and orient others in the right direction,” said Volder-Ide, who has more than 15 years of experience working in skill development and training programmes.

HoKa focuses on developing the knowledge and skills of the trainees, who are typically currently serving professionals in the industry, youths in need or experts who stopped their work due to the Covid-19 crisis.

After their training is completed, the trainees get certificates to confirm their abilities from the HoKa project management committee at the tourism ministry.

On July 19, Pak Sokhom, secretary of state of the ministry of tourism and chairman of the HoKa project management committee, attended the meeting to review the results of the first semester of 2022 and the working direction for the second semester of the committee in Preah Vihear province.

“Through the HoKa project mechanism, which is the core mechanism of cooperation and strengthening the national and sub-national working mechanisms in the implementation of the HoKa Hospitality Training Programme, we will achieve even better results,” he said.

“The programme is contributing to Cambodia’s tourism sector and strengthening the tourism profession, as Minister of Tourism [Thong Khon] has always said: ‘The tourism profession is your life’,” Sokhom said.

Chuob Ratana, director of the Department of Tourism development planning and head of the secretariat of the HoKa project management committee, said that the committee had trained 884 professionals and trainers with the support of Swiss Contact, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNIDO in areas such as food and beverage services, front desk office, housekeeping, chefs and baristas.

“HoKa hospitality training for the first semester was conducted in the provinces of Preah Vihear, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang,” he said.

Christian Volder-Ide, Team Leader of the Skills Development Programme, commended the HoKa committee and the departments of tourism in the target provinces for their cooperation and efforts to implement the action plan and achieve outstanding results.

“Through this collaboration, Swiss Contact will expand HoKa hospitality training to Battambang, Pailin, Pursat, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces, which are priority destinations and have great potential for the tourism sector,” said Volder-Ide.