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New loan scheme for tourism students takes aim at labour shortage

The government on Wednesday announced they are working on a loan scheme that will help tourism students finance courses at universities and vocational centres.

The loan programme will count with the collaboration of banks and microfinance institutions, who will disburse the loans, as well as course providers, including hotel and restaurant associations, universities and vocational centres, according to Chea Bora, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism.

He said the envisioned programme aims to tackle the dearth of human resources in the tourism industry by enhancing students access to credit with which they can finance their education.

Mr Bora, who unveiled the plan this week during a meeting with sector stakeholders, said students will be able to use the loans to pay for courses on a variety of tourism-related skills. He did not provide any specific dates as to when the programme might start.

Try Chhiv, deputy director at the Ministry of Tourism, told Khmer Times yesterday that the government’s aim is to facilitate the process of securing a loan for students.

He said that under the upcoming programme, more financial institutions will develop loans tailored specifically to the needs of students.

Mr Chhiv pointed out that that there is a lack of tourism professionals in the Kingdom, and that human resources are insufficient to fill vacancies in the industry.

He said with demand for tourism professionals being particularly high, the risk of defaulting is low, as most students will be able to secure a job upon completion of their courses.

“Our policy continues to be to boost the number of tourism professionals in the country, and we believe this is an excellent way of doing so,” Mr Chhiv said.

He said that to keep up with demand in the tourism industry, Cambodia needs to train at least 50,000 professionals per year.

“In the hospitality and service sectors, Cambodia has a dearth of human resources for certain skills. We have a shortage of chefs in hotels and restaurants,” he said. “We are trying to train as many professionals as possible. Our goal is to create jobs for young people and provide them with applicable skills.”

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, applauded the initiative.

“It is difficult to find workers for the tourism sector,” he said.

“The Ministry’s loan scheme will increase access to education for students.”

According to Mr Chhiv, Cambodia now has 24 vocational training centres and schools specialising in the tourism sector. In addition, several local universities also offer tourism-related courses.

Two more tourism vocational training centres will be built before the end of 2020, one in Phnom Penh and the other in Sihanoukville, Mr Chhiv added.

Cambodia’s tourism sector earned $3.63 billion in revenue last year, an increase of 13.3 percent, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism.

Last year, international travellers visiting the Kingdom spent 5.6 million, 11.8 percent more than in 2016. Cambodia now expects to welcome at least 6 million international tourists in 2018, 7 million by 2020, and 10 million by 2025.

Source: KhmerTimes

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