Cambodia’s Indigenous ecotourism weighed down by virus fears

Tourism has helped remote Indigenous communities improve their lives and protect the forests. COVID-19 has put both at risk.

When her two teenage daughters started going to high school three years ago, Thong Samai began selling traditional wine that she makes with herbs gathered from the forest to sell alongside Coca-Cola and Red Bull at the entrance of Yeak Laom, a sacred lake that has become a popular ecotourism destination in eastern Cambodia.

It is early March and the largest wave of COVID-19 to hit the country is just starting – although no one knows yet just how bad it will get – and Samai watches as a group of domestic tourists stream out of a bright white van, and walk past her stall on their way to the lake’s edge.’

“They [tourists] are afraid to go near me, and I’m also afraid they could give me COVID, but I still take the risk to run the business,” she told Al Jazeera.

In full: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/3/cambodias-indigenous-ecotourism-weighted-down-by-virus-fears

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