“Siem Reap Beyond the Temples” – Promoting community-based tourism in Siem Reap Province and beyond
01 March 2018
The Regional Economic Development Program III (RED III) supports government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap to promote economic development and poverty alleviation. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (SDC) and includes as well a Cambodian financial contribution The program started in September 2014 and will run until March 2018. It is steered by a National Steering Committee, chaired by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), and Provincial Steering Committees chaired by the respective Provincial Governors. In Siem Reap Province the RED III Program is building on activities that began in 2007 (RED I and II, “Green Belt” Program). In about 3 ½ years, RED III has spent around 9 million Euro. From April 2018 until March 2021 the RED IV Program will continue the support of the region (then including the province of Preah Vihear as well) with the same financing partners and with the same range of budget. Activities in Siem Reap will focus on the tourism sector.
Key to the success of the community-based tourism development in Banteay Srei has been the support for an integrated marketing concept including, for example, a free folder map with itineraries for visitors and a website for the dissemination of information, booking services and more (see http://www.visitbanteaysrei.com). For such products private sector sponsorship has been attracted which is important for sustainability reasons. Supporting the quality of tourism services on the ground (hygiene standards, cooking/meal offers, site development, guided tours and more) based on effective local management in the context of multi-stakeholder processes is the cornerstone for RED’s engagement in the sector. This is combined with modern (web-based) approaches to marketing in close cooperation with the tourism industry (such as tour operators and travel media such as travel magazines and travel blogs).
As a consequence, the number of visitors in Banteay Srei district has gone up and the income of local service providers has increased (about 370 households benefitted; average annual income increase: around 1,200 USD). In 2017, this approach was extended to cover the entire Siem Reap Province. This “Siem Reap Beyond the Temples” initiative has been carried out in close cooperation with the Provincial Department of Tourism, other key departments (environment) and the tourism industry (see website: www.visitsiemreap.com.kh).
Under RED IV, the support of community-based tourism will be continued with the intention to extend the lessons learnt to selected districts in the neighbouring province of Preah Vihear. The vision we have for the future – which will require strong support from all levels of private and public stakeholders – is the formation of a “regional promotion zone for community-based tourism” which extends across provincial borders and applies a harmonized approach to marketing, training and other support for service providers and an effective interface with the tourism industry. This idea has recently been presented to the Minister of Tourism, H.E. Dr Thong Khon. The first steps towards this vision have successfully been accomplished for which I thank all involved persons and institutions. In the coming three years we will address the next steps.
Wolfram Jaeckel RED III Team Leader Siem Reap, February 2018