Swisscontact at the Mekong Tourism Forum 2023!

Upskilling and Reskilling
Swisscontact engaged in constructive dialogues and identified opportunities to enhance the tourism sector’s resilience through building sustainable food systems, fostering women empowerment, accelerating digitalization, and upskilling the tourism workforce during the Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) 2023 on 24-28 April 2023 in Preah Sihanouk Province, under the theme of “Rethinking for Resilience and Digitalisation”.

Hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Kingdom of Cambodia, the event brought together regional tourism stakeholders to discuss critical issues and emerging trends, rethink the future of Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) tourism, exchange insights, and experiences, as well as reconnect face-to-face with each other.

"The key stakeholders from the public and private sectors gathering together today will create unique opportunities to spearhead innovative and collaborative frameworks for tourism recovery towards resilience in this post-COVID-19 era and bring back what we have lost in tourism."
H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia, representing the host country.
"Tourism is one of the priority sectors contributing to socio-economic development through job creation, poverty reduction, investment, infrastructure development, as well as the protection and conservation of cultural heritage and natural resources."
H.E. Mr. Kouch Chamroeun, Governor of Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia.

In addition, MTF 2023 presented three insightful panel discussions on challenges, opportunities, and strategic actions related to building a smart tourism ecosystem, redefining gender roles to empower women, and enhancing the quality of the tourism workforce for a resilient future. Rajiv Pradhan, Swisscontact Cambodia’s Country Director, participated as a panel member on Advancing Human Capital Industry Resilience. This session explored how the tourism industry can develop and retain a skilled workforce to support the growth and sustainability of the sector.

"The tourism industry in the Mekong region has been facing significant challenges related to workforce shortage and low-skilled labour. It is important to develop human capital through the HoKa training programme of the Ministry of Tourism. This includes re-skilling and up-skilling the hospitality professionals which will help the industry to be resilient."
Mr. Rajiv Pradhan, Swisscontact Cambodia’s Country Director

He further added that HoKa product of the Ministry of Tourism, which is demand based and caters to the need of the industry, has served Cambodia as a relevant up-skilling and re-skilling product, especially during the time of the tourism recovery after the effect of Covid-19.

"In the Human Capital Angle, Hospitality Kampuchea (HoKa) is one of the skills bridging for youths to catch up a level of competency as well as toward the national qualification recognition and market demand."
Mr. Chuob Ratana Mr. Chuob Ratana, Director of Tourism Development Planning Department of the Ministry of Tourism and Head of the Secretariat of the HoKa Steering Committee.

In addition to the panel discussions, MTF 2023 hosted a Sustainable Tourism Exhibition featuring over 20 exhibitors showcasing responsible and sustainable tourism, community-based tourism, and local community products. HoKa was also presented in its own booth to share experiences and best practices of its implementation and to promote awareness of the importance of upskilling the tourism workforce.

"As the co-organizer of MTF, I am thrilled to see a great turnout for this event. We are excited to see the profile of MTF delegates evolving and expanding, with more participation from international organizations, development partners, women-focused organizations and, importantly, local communities, including the disabled, at the grassroots level. It is our role to foster inclusive growth in the tourism sector in GMS region."
Ms. Suvimol Thanasarakij, Executive Director of MTCO

The ceremony was presided over by H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism with the honourable participation of H.E. Kouch Chamro eun Preah Sihanouk provincial governor and attended by more than 200 delegates from 19 countries and relevant key stakeholders. MTF 2023 was officially closed by H.E. Tith Chantha, Permanent Secretary of State of the Ministry of Tourism, followed by the certificates of appreciation award for all moderators, speakers, and sponsors.

The MTF flag was handed over to China which will host MTF 2024 in Lijiang city in May 2024.

Swisscontact would like to congratulate and pay respects to H.E. Dr. Thong Khon and the Ministry of Tourism for the successful organization of the MTF 2023.

The HoKa training programme of the Ministry of Tourism is supported by the Skills Development Programme, a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, offers various skills including Front Office, Housekeeping, Foos and Beverage Services, Cooking, Basic Barista Skills, Cocktail, Community-Based Tourism, and Community-Based Eco-tourism (CBT/CBET) capacity training, and community tour guide. HoKa focuses on quality training delivery to low-skilled workers, training of trainers, training of assessors through professional coaching programmes, Hospitality High Impact Training (HHIT), Professional Industry Placement (PIP), and HoKa 4.0 based on the endorsed training handouts.

Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion, Sustainable tourism
Skills Development Programme
The overall goal of the Skills Development Programme (SDP) is for disadvantaged young women and men and low-skilled workers in five rural provinces of Cambodia (Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie, Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri) to gain access to decent employment and increased income.