UNWTO Project to Help Strengthen Community-based Ecotourism Initiatives in Northeastern Cambodia
The UNWTO has launched a project in north-eastern Cambodia for the promotion of environmental conservation and community-based ecotourism (CBET) initiatives. The project is being implemented in collaboration with local environmental NGO Mlup Baitong, and with the generous financial contribution of the EuropaMundo Foundation. The project aims to build the capacities of local authorities and community members, particularly women, to enable them to manage community-based ecotourism self-sufficiently and sustainably.
Activities during the first few months revolved around community mobilization and capacity-building for members of local tourism authorities and tourism service providers. In each of the selected CBET sites (Preah Rumkel and Borey Osvay), inception meetings were conducted to inform community members about project objectives and activities to ensure full participation and ownership. A total of 88 people participated in these meetings, of whom 53 were female.
Site visits were organized for high-level officials of the Stung Treng Provincial Tourism Department to discuss project coordination and for the establishment of CBET Management Committees (CBETMC). For both sites, a total of 26 CBET Management Committee members were selected, of whom 10 are females, and discussions were held on the management structure of the CBETMC and the review of community-based tourism by-laws. During these capacity building activities, selected CBETMC members learned how to communicate with stakeholders and visitors; how to implement and monitor project activities; the role and duty of community leadership; and note taking during meetings and report writing.
For each site, seven different groups of tourism service providers were established (i.e. homestay, food preparation, guide, boat trip, Khmer classical show, community environmental attendants, and souvenir production). There are a total of 54 tourism service providers in Borey Osvay (34 females), and 85 in Preah Rumkel (39 females). For both the tourism service providers as well as CBET Management Committee members, a study tour visit to near-by Chambok , a model CBET site, was organized.
Upcoming activities of the project will focus on the establishment and renovation of CBET facilities and on creating marketing and advertising mechanisms for community-based ecotourism in Preah Rumkel and Borey Osvay.