Cambodia, renowned for the majestic Angkor Wat, is broadening its appeal to showcase the depth of experiences it offers beyond its iconic temples. Industry experts are steering the narrative towards a more holistic representation of the country, emphasizing the warm and welcoming nature of the Cambodian people as a key attraction.
In discussions with the Khmer Times, travel professionals voiced a common theme: the authentic warmth of the Cambodian people is the nation’s most underappreciated asset. Steve Lidgey, General Manager at Travel Asia a la carte, noted that while Thailand is famously dubbed the ‘Land of Smiles,’ the sincerity of the Cambodian welcome surpasses it, coming straight from the heart.
Echoing this sentiment, Francois Schnoebelen, Director at Ecole d’Hotellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule, highlighted the inherent kindness of the Cambodian populace as the country’s true treasure. In a world craving genuine human connection, Cambodia’s culture and education system nurture a kindness that is both rare and invaluable.
The tourism sector, fundamentally a “people industry,” comes alive through the interactions between travelers and locals. Nikolas Hatz, a Senior Lead Consultant and Tourism Development Expert, emphasized that while natural and architectural marvels draw visitors, it is the stories, traditions, and cultures of the local people that enrich and provide context to these attractions.
Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong/Millennium Destinations, advocates for a more nuanced promotion of Cambodia, highlighting the “Khmeritude” – the essence of the Khmer lifestyle, enriched by a blend of cultural, natural, and human elements. The warmth and resilience of the Cambodian people, coupled with their rich heritage, make the country a unique and memorable destination.
Thourn Sinan, Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter, and William Lake, co-owner of Olive & Lake, both praise the genuine hospitality of the Cambodians, noting how it significantly enhances visitors’ experiences. The opportunity for meaningful engagement, whether through volunteer work, community support, or learning about sustainable practices, adds another layer to Cambodia’s appeal.
Run Virak, CEO and Co-Founder of Unseentra.com, commends the everyday kindness and helpfulness that are hallmarks of Cambodian society. This spirit of hospitality is not just reserved for fellow citizens but extends to all who visit.
In essence, the interactions with Cambodian locals, from tour guides to market vendors, offer insights and stories that bring the country’s heritage to life. This human dimension of travel in Cambodia, characterized by warmth and genuine hospitality, is what truly sets the nation apart, creating lasting memories for those who visit.
Source: Khmer Times