Citing a lack of professional tour guides in Sihanoukville, the Ministry of Tourism will offer training to 130 candidates in the coming months, offering the first two-month course to candidates who speak Chinese.
Tang Sochetkresna, director of the Sihanoukville tourism department, said the training would be conducted in cooperation with the Intellectual Capital Center, a local vocational training institute.
“We have seen a high demand for tour guides, especially among Chinese tourists,” Mr. Sochetkresna said, adding that courses would also cater to tour guides who can speak Chinese, English, Korean, Thai and French.
“The courses will be taught in Khmer on the geography and history of Sihanoukville and nearby coastal areas,” he said, adding that applicants would be considered largely based on their fluency in the language they planned to use.
The first training courses for Chinese-speaking guides will begin at the end of this month, with other languages set to begin in December, he said. Candidates can submit their applications to the city’s tourism department.
According to the latest Tourism Ministry statistics, foreign visitors to coastal areas—mainly Sihanoukville—increased from about 395,000 in 2015, to some 420,000 in the first seven months of this year. The government has made it a priority to boost visitors from China.
Ho Vandy, chairman of the steering committee for the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that as the tourism sector matured it was important to have guides who specialized in particular parts of the country.
“With the increasing demand in tourism in different regions, the tour guides will have to gain the knowledge required specifically for their regions,” he said.
Nhim Niv, assistant manager at The Secret Garden, located on O’Tres Beach, said that while tourists managed to get around, there were not many professionals around to show them the way.
“Normally I see the tuk-tuk drivers take the tourists around as their tour guide—with a map with them,” he said.