Tourism Minister Shares Cambodia’s Commitment to Implement ASEAN MRA-TP

As Cambodia is the host country of the 2nd International Conference on the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP), Minister of Tourism H.E. Thong Khon recalled ASEAN MRA-TP's background and laid stress on Cambodia's commitment to carry out this MRA-TP.

The ASEAN MRA-TP Agreement is organised in accordance with the ASEAN Tourism Agreement, signed by the ASEAN Leaders during the 8th ASEAN Summit on Nov. 4, 2002, then MRA-TP was signed by the ASEAN Tourism Ministers during the ATF in 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam, aiming at facilitating the mobility of tourism professionals in the region in terms of 32 job titles in hotel and travel services, and exchanging experiences on best practices in education and training human resources in tourism as well as to address the skills gap of the professionals, he said in his opening speech yesterday.

This year, he underlined, Cambodia has the honour to host this important conference in a spirit of solidarity and friendship, in order to share the best practices and perspectives, particularly to obtain input from stakeholders to map out ASEAN's strategic policies, planning, and activities promoting skills development and employment opportunities in ASEAN Tourism responding to the labour market needs and trends in global tourism and the development of science and technology.

According to H.E. Thong Khon, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Tourism Professionals (NCTP), presently, Cambodia enjoys peace, which is fundamental for development in all areas. Cambodia used to be bombed, suffer from the genocidal Pol Pot, different zoning controls, homeless families, and civil war and now under the wise leadership of Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Cambodia has become an attractive destination for national and international tourists, foreign investment, and the right to travel everywhere. Based on safety and security conditions, Cambodia has steadily grown in all sectors by ensuring average economic growth of 7.7 percent, while the unemployment and poverty rates have been significantly reduced, transforming Cambodia from a low-income into a lower middle-income economy and increasing the GDP per capita from US$223 in 1998 to US$1,438 in 2017.

Tourism has contributed to this remarkable growth. In 2017, with the total arrivals of 5.6 million international tourists, Cambodia's tourism sector increased by 11.8 percent, generating US$3,638 million, equivalent to 12.3 percent of the total GDP and providing 620,000 direct jobs. For the first four months of 2018, we have received 2.4 million international tourists with 13.8 percent growth compared to the same period last year. The vision in 2020 is to welcome 7 million foreign tourists which will generate 1 million direct jobs, and 10 million foreign arrivals in 2025 with 1.2 million direct jobs, and 15 million international visitors in 2030 with approximately 2 million direct jobs, he continued.

Regarding the Human Resource Development, he added, the Ministry of Tourism has launched the campaign One Employee, One Skill, which is one of the four strategic angles, and the vision to make all the tourism professionals be certified and recognised in accordance with national and ASEAN standards as outlined in the strategic plan for Tourism Human Resource Development 2017-2025.

Based on this vision, the Royal Government of Cambodia has established the NCTP, chaired by the Ministry of Tourism with deputy from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and joined by relevant ministries and stakeholders. NCTP, is in charge of ASEAN MRA-TP implementation and has been working hard with all relevant stakeholders domestic and internationally such as ASEAN Secretariat, relevant ministries, the private sector, tourism vocational training schools, and development partners to develop and implement ASEAN common competency standards for tourism professionals, train national trainers and assessors, implement in-house training, and other skills development programmes. As a result, Cambodia has been recognised as a leading country in skills development within the framework of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on ASEAN Tourism Professionals (MRA) implementation.

Up to now, H.E. Minister pointed out, Cambodia has trained approximately 2,000 students who have gone through the ASEAN qualification recognition and the number will increase substantially in the next few years. Moreover, recently the Ministry of Tourism is working closely with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports to put in place the ASEAN common competencies standard in general and technical high schools so that students are able to learn tourism skills for three years after they have graduated grade 9 and will be awarded a professional baccalaureate in Tourism.

The ASEAN MRA-TP is a form of cooperation aiming at sharing experience and good practices on human resource training in tourism, especially in hotel and travel services.

The ASEAN MRA-TP is aimed to improve quality tourism services in the bloc. Certified Tourism Professionals under the MRA-TP would support Member States in developing ASEAN into a Quality Tourism Destination as indicated in the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025.

The 2nd International Conference on the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals have been taking place in Phnom Penh on June 20-21 under the theme Human Resource Development for Sustainable Tourism.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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