Vang Vieng, Lao PDR


A senior official from the Cambodia Tourism Ministry is seeking to increase the skill set of tourism professionals.

Try Chhiv, director of the National Committee for the Tourism Professional Secretariat and deputy director-general of the Ministry of Tourism said ASEAN will complete the signing on the Protocol Amendment of ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) to include more talents in the industry by mid-2021

At present, the protocol of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement of Tourism Professionals (ASEAN MRA-TP) requires 32 skills, 23 in the hotel sector and nine in transportation.

Bright Star Spa in Phnom Penh. Masseurs and masseuses will be given more training across Asean, according to the Cambodian Tourism Ministry.
Photo: Khmer Times

“We hope that by mid 2021, the. signing will be completed, and another 38 essential skills will be added to the 32 already required by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for tourism professionals in the Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangements,” said Chhiv.

“After the signing, we will work with other Asean members to think about the training course and curriculum and apply [our decisions] to all the member states.”

Chhiv said the Asean MRAs for tourism professionals signed in 2012 facilitated them to be able to work throughout the Asean member nations and reduce the skill gaps found in the industry.The role of MRAs is to develop human resources because they are considered to be an outstanding mechanism in developing tourism professionals’ abilities. They are also used to solve COVID-19 related issues because they show how plans will work in the future via online learning programmes and upskilling and re-skilling in the sector. ASEAN will also focus on the participation of the tourism sector in supporting growth in other sectors.

The new 38 essential skills are divided into six groups in massage and spa operations and 32 skills in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector.

“Starting from mid-2021, the number of skills listed in MRAs will reach 70. It is an important message for those who work in massage parlours and spas because they are not well-recognised – although the ministry has trained them. Once we are recognised nationally and regionally, it will give them hope,” said Chhiv.

“So far, Cambodia has 6,000 recognised tourism professionals. It is still low compared with the total employment in the tourism sector of 630,000 people,” he added.

“When the new skills for spa work and massage and MICE come into force in the MRA, ASEAN will prepare the training programmes – and Cambodia will be in charge of the massage training skills. We allow all education institutions under the Ministry of Tourism to provide the training based on ASEAN standards, especially in the hotel and travel industries,” said Chhiv.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), welcomed the move.

She said it will increase a more skilled labour force and standards and quality in the tourism industry.

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