Representatives of Cambodia’s restaurant and hotel associations announced yesterday a joint October trade show, which they said would bring 6,000 domestic hospitality workers together with potential suppliers from around the world.
At a news conference held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Hotel Association President Luu Meng said that the Oct 21 to 23 CamFood, CamHotel event would help both associations show local businesses how to provide better service.
The event will take place at the convention center of Koh Pich Island in the capital, where 200 international exhibitors–including companies such as EJ Gallo Winery and Nestle–will set up booths to meet with service providers from all over Cambodia.
“Five or ten years ago it was okay for Cambodians to run simple restaurants but that is not really the case anymore,” said Mr Meng, who also serves as the chairman of the CamFood organizing committee.
Mr Meng and Cambodia Restaurant Association President Van Porleng stressed the importance of training workers to cater to an international clientele, and the need for quality ingredients and equipment.
“The level of service in Cambodia is often very good but sometimes very low,” said Ms Porleng. “Sometimes we teach our workers how to do their job and a month later they seemed to have forgotten.”
Ms Porleng said the coming trade show would also provide industry employees with motivation: The first two days of the event will feature coffee-making, bartending, waiting, bed-making and cake decorating contests.
According to Andrew Siow, director of the Kuala Lumpur-based events group AMB Exhibitions, which will orchestrate October’s show, the Koh Pich convention center has finally provided Cambodia with a means to tap into the lucrative convention industry.
“Asian countries are fighting for this market and Cambodia can now be involved,” said Mr Siow.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector tourism working group, said that though Cambodia still cannot compete for major events with Vietnam or Thailand, the number of conventioneers traveling to Phnom Penh has increased rapidly over the last five years.
“The hotels in Cambodia and airlines that come here must have bigger capacity to bring in many exposition travelers,” said Mr Vandy.