Siem Reap to rebuild women’s economic losses

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An employee ushers in guests into a bar cum entertainment outlet in Siem Reap city. KT/Chor Sokunthea

For almost two years, thousands of women in Siem Reap are still bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic hardship with them having lost their jobs in the tourism and service industry.

Even today, they are still uncertain what the future holds in spite of the high percentage of the population vaccinated, the virus spread low and the government opening up all the sectors, including aviation to boost the tourism industry.

According to the Provincial Tourism Department, almost 10,000 women in Siem Reap who work in hospitality, service, and tourism sectors such as in karaokes, discotheques, bars, pubs, spas, massage parlours and even as tourist guides had lost their jobs, plunging them into significant financial insecurity and caregiving challenges.

Among those who lost their jobs are 4,867 women who worked in hotels, 905 in guest houses, 1,040 in restaurants, 792 in 54 massage parlours, 610 in 14 karaokes, 96 in four discotheques, 245 women in 22 beer gardens, 547 in sport tourism and 706 tourist guides.

Provincial Tourism Department director Ngov Sengkak told Khmer Times that in Siem Reap a lot of women who worked in the tourism industry have lost their jobs due to the tourism industry affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Women are important to attract tourists, not in sexual ways, but in a good way as they are a good host. Foreign tourists like to chill out at bars, discotheques, restaurants, or karaoke outlets at night after they visit tourist sites.

Women know how to entertain their guests in a friendly and warm manner,” he said, adding that women are also now the pillar of their families. With the government reopening all the sectors, he said, the provincial authorities were also opening the entertainment, hospitality, and service sectors since December 1 and women are already taking up jobs while some have moved on to other cities to seek job opportunities.

“We are closely monitoring all the business outlets to make sure they adhere to the SOPs to avert Covid outbreaks,” he added. Tour ism Mini s t ry Secretary of State Hun Dany said that women are the driving force behind the growth of the industry and they contribute substantially to improving the living standards of their families, community, and socio-economics.

“The ministry has always empowered women to play a pivotal role in the tourism industry as they too contribute toward to the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism,” she added.

She said the Ministry encourages women to take up challenging roles in the tourism industry and play a big role in reviving the industry, better than what it was before, as their presence and warm hospitality will make tourists remember Siem Reap.

Provincial deputy governor Pov Piseth who is responsible for the tourism sector told Khmer Times that all provincial officials will cooperate with the residents to build and promote the tourism sector so as to revive the industry and attract tourist arrivals from all over the world.

“The authorities are doing their best to restore the tourism sector, especially with Siem Reap well known globally for its grand temples of the Angkorian period, culture, heritage, civilisation, and peoples’ warm hospitality and the food,” he added.

Siem Reap province being the major tourist hub of Cambodia, the women is empowered to make up the majority of the tourism workforce besides the province noted for being a vehicle for job creation, economic growth, and development.

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