In an effort to train a skilled tourism workforce, the government has begun to integrate tourism-related subjects to Grade 10, 11 and 12 students at general and technical high school students. The subjects, which will be taught alongside traditional subjects, have been introduced in four schools.

The Ministry of Tourism laid out the curriculum, which offers a well-rounded set of tourism skills, in a December 28 announcement.

Try Chhiv, director of the ministry’s National Committee for the Tourism Professional Secretariat, said the three-year curriculum began in Grade 10. Alongside general education subjects like Khmer literature, English, physics, geography, history, civics and economics, students would spend 836 hours learning about tourism, with both practical and theoretical classes.

In the second year, Grade 11, they would study the same number of hours, further their studies and introduce realistic training scenarios. Grade 12 students would study 798 hours per year.

“Over the course of the three years, the students will learn about food and beverage services, front-desk, food production, housekeeping, tour operations, plus other general knowledge and soft skills,” he added.

Chhiv said students would earn certificates which were the equivalent of high school diplomas, so they could go on to study tourism management at university.

Martalia Lo, the principal of the ACT Academy of Careers and Technology, said the academy would offer the three year course in grades 10, 11 and 12. Classes would rotate between three months of theoretical study and three of practical.

Following graduation, the students would be fully capable of running tourist businesses, she said.

“Thanks to the new curriculum, these high school students will become tourism specialists – a very useful resource in the sector,” she added.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan hailed the initiative.

“I support this initiative because it will give them concrete skills, and the knowledge they will need to work in or run tourism businesses,” he added.

According to the tourism ministry, the four schools chosen to implement the curriculum are the ACT Academy of Careers and Technology in Phnom Penh, the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Technical Education Center in Siem Reap province, the Kampong Chheu Teal Institute of Technology in Kampong Thom province and Saint Francois General Knowledge High School in Takeo province.