It’s not only the increased focus on ‘flygskam’ and the environmental benefits of travelling by train. We’ve always been fascinated with train travel and epic railway journeys. From Thomas Cook and the first excursions by train to the heydays of train travel, it conjures up images of early adventurers exploring new and exciting places suitcase in hand. Rather than getting on a plane we’ve often talked about doing the Trans-Siberian Railway from Cambodia back to Europe via Vietnam, China and Mongolia.
Aiming to provide a platform for local artist to share their experience, skills and talent, Khmer Art Connections is a Social Enterprise offering interactive arts and crafts classes for locals and visitors to Siem Reap.
Founder and director Samnieng Roun is very excited as he tells us how the initial idea was to connect talented and promising local artists with local people and visitors interested in traditional arts and crafts, as well as different painting, wood carving and iron sketching techniques.
From choosing local goods over packaged imports to carrying reusable water bottles and bags, there are many ways in which we all can contribute to make our holidays greener and – ultimately – help create better places to live in, and better places to visit.
For the past ten years, the team at Soria Moria Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, have been welcoming guests from all over the world. Whether it’s staying guests, local project partners or the wonderful members of staff, people have always been at the heart of Soria Moria’s business model.
This November sees a range of anniversaries and celebrations within the fields of responsible travel and tourism. World Travel Market in London will mark 20 years of Responsible Tourism and celebrate 10 years of World Responsible Tourism Day since the start in 2006.
My first trip to Cambodia was in 2007 when I came to run a guesthouse a bit outside the charming town of Siem Reap. It was a small guesthouse with a strong focus on Responsible Tourism and I was intrigued by the concept. The management and staff at the guesthouse worked closely with local community projects and hired local staff, drivers and guides. The staff all received plenty of training, had good working conditions, fair salaries and flexible working hours to enable them to continue their education – something of which was organised and sponsored by the guesthouse.
I have only been in Cambodia for 3 months but from the beginning I have been continually intrigued and drawn to the amazing businesses, organisations and individuals doing amazing work in the country.
Cambodia has the second largest number of NGOs in the world, coming in only after Rwanda. That’s not even including the many social enterprises and increasingly responsibly minded businesses operating here which are all part of a huge community dedicating their time to growing and improving Cambodia’s future.
Siem Reap, Cambodia, has been my home for the past seven years. It is a country of contrasts and smiles. The town is booming thanks to the increase in tourism; tour buses and 4x4s are everywhere. Very different from seven years ago when the only cars were taxis doing the Phnom Penh run or World Food Programme 4x4s. But step back from the main tourist area and visit villages where bicycles and motorbikes are the main form of transport and experience how many Cambodians continue to live a life that has changed little in hundreds of years.
World Responsible Tourism Day at the World Travel Market in London is always a good opportunity to meet up with and learn from colleagues and industry experts from around the world. This year was no exception and the Responsible Tourism Programme had a line up of interesting seminars and speakers with particular focus on animal welfare, authenticity, collaboration, child protection and behaviour change.
Dragon boat racing has long traditions in Cambodia with people from all over the country celebrating the Cambodian Water Festival (Bon Om Tuk) and watching the boat races in Siem Reap, in the provinces and, not least, along Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh which attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year.