We had the chance to visit Cambodia for the second time as part of the Journeys of Sustainability project, a capacity building programme whose goal is to empower youth and youth workers through a better understanding of sustainable and responsible tourism in South East Asia.
Firstly, we visited the Chi Phat Community-based Ecotourism Project (CBET), which the Lonely Planet guide presents as follows:
In an effort to protect the southern Cardamom Mountains from poaching, logging and land grabbing, Wildlife Alliance (www.wildlifealliance.org) launched a multiphase project to transform the rainforest into a source of jobs and income for local people. The Southern Cardamoms Protected Forest (1443 sq km) […].
Once notorious for its loggers and poachers, the river village of Chi Phat (population 630 families) is now home to Wildlife Alliance’s pioneering community-based ecotourism project (CBET). Chi Phat offers travellers a rare and special opportunity to stay in a rural community where tourism is controlled by the local villagers themselves; and to explore the Cardamoms ecosystems while contributing to their conservation and providing an alternative livelihood to the former poachers who now act as its protectors and guides.
We visited the village of Chambok for second time.
An environmental organization, Mlup Baitong, has been working on the Chambok Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project. This CBET project has had substantial success as recognised by the 2014 award, which after recognising its achievements, states however that:
“With regard to its sustainability, its economic profitability and its cost-benefit-ratio, the Chambok Community Based Ecotourism Project is a positive example for a successful community based ecotourism project”
“Despite all the success of the project as mentioned above, and despite the increase in revenues from ecotourism activities, some areas remain in which improvements can and partly must be made.”
As it was our second visist just 9 months after, we observed some changes, like more mobile phones and a connection to the electric grid at 65 volts, which is a leaves the car batteries obsolete. Now, fans will alleaviate the heat and the road is paved to accelerate the process of modernization.
We held several interviews with the local community leader Mr. Morn and Mr. Sophana and shared our views and experience in Chi Phat, project that they knew but not in depth. We aimed to discuss possible room for improvement within the Chambok tourism.
We discussed possibilities to send volunteers from Spain, that look for a opportunity to help the local community in Cambodia. We are still developing our strategy regarding sending volunteers but we will for sure take Chambok into account when we are ready.
Our second goal was to open the way for Mrs. Srey Touch, a tourist guide, to visit Zaragoza with the same job shadowing scheme we are using then. We met Srey, her family, the community leader and also visited her new company in order to make possible that she comes.
We also helped her get an ID and a passport. Unfortunately, she changed her opinion and told us she would prefer to establish herself in her new internship in vKirirom, a Japanese educative-tourist project in the nearby.
References about Chambok:
Finally, we accepted the invitation to visit Siem Reap by Ms. Nguon Rothsophal from the Paññāsāstra University to offer a workshop to the students on the impacts on tourism in Siem Reap. It was good to enjoy direct contact with the Cambodian students and listen to their concerned regarding tourism in Siem Reap and Angkor. You can read more about this experience in the post published in the university website.