The Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with Hospitality Kampuchea (HoKa) and with the support of Swisscontact Cambodia, on November 23 officially launched the Skills Development Programme (SDP) in Pursat province.

The launch was marked by a ceremony held at the provincial tourism department’s meeting hall, and attended by more than 70 people, comprising officials, tourism experts and travel industry players.

Chuob Ratana, director of the ministry’s tourism development planning department, said at the ceremony that HoKa provides vocational training for young men and women and low-skilled workers in the provinces to give them a better shot at employment and economic security.

He said it also helps strengthen the capacity of expert officials at provincial tourism departments to create and maintain a pool of trainers for sustainable hospitality training in their jurisdictions.

"The inclusion of Pursat in the project's objectives for hospitality training is one of the strategies of the tourism ministry’s HoKa Steering Committee, to promote and improve the quality of tourism services in the province by building the professional capacity of staff," Ratana said.

He maintained that Pursat is emerging as a popular travel destination, especially the Veal Veng and Thmor Da areas, as new attractions sprout up.

Christian Volker Ide, head of the SDP at Swisscontact, confirmed that Pursat would join Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces as a new target for the skills development programme.

He noted that the project previously supported just five provinces in the northeast: Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri.

Ide committed Swisscontact to stepping up cooperation with development partners and stakeholders to mobilise resources in further support of HoKa, specifically with the aim of expanding into more provinces elsewhere in the country.

HoKa was developed under the 2020-2024 SDP – a project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact – to support the tourism ministry through the HoKa Steering Committee.

It was designed to provide hospitality training to young people, low-skilled workers, business owners and tourism communities in the five northeastern provinces and has expanded the scope of training to five more provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake.

As of September 31, HoKa has trained a total of 1,123 tourism professionals, 745 of them women (66 per cent), in housekeeping, front office, food and beverage services, and as chefs and baristas, in close collaboration with Swisscontact and target provincial tourism departments.

Since its inception, it had expanded its relationships with key partners such as the Skills Development Fund, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).