Cambodian crafts producer and gift shop Artisans d’Angkor, the second most popular attraction in Cambodia behind Angkor Wat, opened a fourth location on Friday in Phnom Penh.
Started in 1992 as an NGO to help train and support rural crafts people, Artisan became a sustainable commercial company that specialized in quality art and cultural goods in 2003, Chief Executive Officer Lionel Requillart said on Thursday.
The new outlet near the main Post Office joins two stores located in the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports and a location in Siem Reap city.
“People from Phnom Penh were visiting us in Siem Reap and said they wished we had a store in Phnom Penh,” Mr Requillart said.
He said that while it is difficult to count how many people visit the stores each year, particularly the airport locations, he estimates that more than half a million people have visited a Artisans d’Angkor outlet.
The new store’s offerings will be split between textiles, such as silk accessories and clothes, and crafts made from materials such as wood, Pursat marble and silver. Mr Requillart said the store will also focus on interior design products because the capital city is more residential than Siem Reap.
One goal of Artisans d’Angkor in 2010 will be to train and add more than 100 additional artists to the company’s production lines, Mr Requillart said. Currently, Artisans d’Angkor has 1,110 local crafts people working for it.
Mr Requillart said that in addition to a competitive wage, employees also have benefits such as medical insurance, social support such as childcare and they become shareholders in the company.
Mr Requillart said part of the company’s success is the ability to identify what certain groups of tourists look for in their purchases.
For example, visitors from the US are attracted to the social entrepreneurial model and the fact that the artists are shareholders in the company. While Chinese and Korean visitors particularly enjoy the high quality of the products and European visitors highly value the social responsibility of the company and the aesthetic quality of the goods.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector Tourism Working Group, confirmed yesterday that Artisans d’Angkor was the second-most visited attraction in Cambodia.
Mr Vandy said people are drawn to the organization’s quality products and mission to help and promote the work of local people. He added most tour operators and companies make stops at the store in Siem Reap.
“It’s good to have Artisans for tourism so people can have souvenirs that remind them of the country’s heritage,” he said.