ST-EP Project on Ecotourism Promotion in Northern Cambodia Completed Successfully
UNWTO recently completed activities of a ST-EP project on community-based ecotourism in Preah Rumkel and Borey Osvay, two villages in northern Cambodia along the Mekong River. The project was launched in May 2016 with the generous contribution from the Spanish foundation Europamundo and implemented by the renowned Cambodian NGO Mlup Baitong.
The main objectives of the project are to empower community members and improve their living standard through promoting community-based ecotourism and environmental conservation. To achieve these, the following five outcomes were established, each with embedded activities:
• Improving management systems community-based ecotourism (CBET) in Preah Rumkel and Borey
• Improving capacities of members of the Community-based Ecotourism Management Committee and tourism service providers of both CBET sites
• Improving mechanism for protection of natural resources, especially the forest and the river dolphin
• Advertisement/marketing mechanisms of both CBET sites are improved
• Tourism facilities at both CBET sites are renovated
The project facilitated the re-election of members of the Community-based Ecotourism Management Committees (CBETMCs) for each site: 15 CBETMC members (5 women) were elected for Preah Rumkel and 12 (5 women) for Borey Osvay with official recognition from the respective community councils. With guidance from the project, each CBETMC revised their bylaws and regulations, and submitted them to the relevant authorities, obtaining official approvals.
Members of the CBETMCs were also given guidance in providing tourism services to foreign visitors. Meetings with 30 CBETMC members (11 women) were conducted to discuss the development of tourism facilities such as community restaurants and community visitor information centers.
The project helped both CBET sites to improve their advertisement and marketing materials in order to increase the numbers of tourists, and compiled information and uploaded photos to the website of the Provincial Department of Tourism of Stung Treng. In collaboration with the CBETMCs for each ecotourism site, 6 attractive road maps and 5 billboards were produced and installed, and tour itineraries and tree planting areas for tourists were designed.
Additionally, the project collaborated with the Stung Treng Provincial Department of Tourism to organize two familiarization trips to advertise both CBET sites to potential visitors and stakeholders. Tour operators from renowned association companies (PATA and CATA), 15 hotel and guest house owners, and 10 university students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the University of Human Resource participated in these familiarization trips.
By the end of the project, the management capacities of both CBETMCs have been improved and the number of foreign visitors to Borey Osvay and Preah Rumkel reached an estimated 4,200 with a total generated income of about 13,000USD during the twelve months of project implementation.