Community-based tourism in Cambodia

Cambodia is a nation built on a long a rich history dating back thousands of years.  Cambodia is fortunate enough to have many lasting examples of this rich history, from the 1st century Funan Era, the Angkor Era, the French colonial era and of course, to the modern Cambodia of today.  As a legacy of Cambodia’s more recent past, many natural areas have been relatively unexploited by the world’s lust for natural resources.

January 15th, 2009_SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA_ Apsara dancers take part in a grand performance at the base of Cambodia's number one tourist attraction, the Anchor Wat Temple. Anchor Wat is a vast complex of temples and other significant structures and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photographer: Daniel J. Groshong/Tayo Photo Group

Tourism of Cambodia has done an excellent job in promoting Cambodia’s tourism assets to date and it would be hard to find people anywhere in the world that did not have at least some knowledge of Cambodia.  In 2006, Cambodia had an impressive 1.7 million visitors, most of whom visited Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

The challenges for Cambodia today however, are to diversify Cambodia’s tourism market, drawing more visitors to other regions, particularly coastal areas.  The conservation of Cambodia’s existing natural landscape through the promotion of dive and eco-tourism is also essential to guaranteeing a source of sustainable economic growth for generations to come.  Dive and eco-tourism have great potential in Cambodia and have both been identified by Tourism of Cambodia as priorities for Cambodia’s renewed tourism drive.

As Cambodia emerges onto the world’s dive and eco-tourism markets, it will be vital to “brand” Cambodia with a stylish, quality look and feel.  Also it will be beneficial to create a sustainable model for dive and eco-tourism to help insure future economic growth for Cambodia in these areas. Cambodia deserves to be portrayed as a jewel and to be presented to the world in a stylish and sophisticated way that would be the envy of any nation.  Through good photography and design, it is possible to excite the world on the hidden treasures that exist in Cambodia today and to help build a robust dive and eco-tourism industry.

This project will have numerous significant benefits for Cambodia, including a coffee table book designed and printed to the highest quality to be used by the people of Cambodia as a showpiece for the country. A central photographic archive consisting of thousand of high-end images to be used to further promote Cambodia through an endless stream of promotional materials.  Numerous valuable skills will be transferred, including scuba diving, training in the art of photography, design, printing and the management of a photographic archive. An awareness of the value of unspoiled natural resources will be passed on to as many Cambodian people as possible, through a series of workshops and on the job training and the development of a profitable and sustainable dive and eco-tourism industries.  Finally, the equipment purchased for the project and the management of the photographic archive, will be left in Cambodia for Tourism of Cambodia’s use for years to come.

This project will put a strong emphasis on promoting Cambodia’s dive and eco-tourism assets.

January 6th, 2009_KOH KONG, CAMBODIA_ The sun sets in Cambodia's Koh Kong province. Koh Kong is in the south west of Cambodia and boarders Thailand. Photographer: Daniel J. Groshong/Tayo Photo Group

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES:
The best possible outcome of the Cambodia project will be to help Tourism of Cambodia to diversify it’s tourism, by promoting a number of important dive and eco-tourism destinations.  An increase economic growth and sustainable tourism in Cambodia will help protect Cambodia’s valuable eco and dive tourism assets through economic opportunity for people living in dive and eco-tourism areas.  The project will also create a central photographic archive with thousands of high quality images, which can be used to further promote Cambodia through a variety of other promotional materials, including, posters, post cards, traveling photo exhibitions and positive stories about Cambodia in the worlds press, to name a few.  Finally, the project will create a legacy of photographic and design excellence, which will be synonymous with Tourism of Cambodia.

Tayo Photo Group is a photographic and design organization, which will work hand in hand with Tourism of Cambodia, to become intimate with the country and it’s people so as to convey the magic and wonder of Cambodia and it’s people to the world through a range of powerful publications.  Tayo Photo Group also intends to leave a valuable legacy of photographic and design professionalism in Cambodia, by working closely with local tourism industry people at every step of a project.  Copyright of all the images taken during a project will be shared with the Tourism of Cambodia and Tayo Photo Group will try to ensure that there are the resources left in place, to manage and exploit this central photographic archive to promote Cambodia for years to come.

CONCLUSION:
Tourism is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and Cambodia has the potential to gain a considerably larger share of the tourism market in Asia.  The Cambodia project is designed to not only create a high-end photographic showpiece of Cambodia and its people, but also give the people of Cambodia economic possibilities through sustainable dive and eco-tourism.

January 5th, 2009_KOH KONG, CAMBODIA_ Views of a Buddhist temple in Cambodia's Koh Kong province. Koh Kong is in the south west of Cambodia and boarders Thailand. Photographer: Daniel J. Groshong/Tayo Photo Group

Dive and eco-tourism are some of the few industries that has the potential to put economic growth directly into the hands of lower and middle class Cambodians, as has been demonstrated by the massive low budget accommodation industry that already exists in several of Cambodia’s main tourist destinations.  The benefits of well-managed dive and eco-tourism are not only economic.  It is now well known through the world, that no amount of law enforcement can protect environmental resources.  It is absolutely essential, that local people must be given the economic incentive to protect the very environment, which puts food on their tables through sustainable dive and eco-tourism.

Cambodia possesses a rich collection of wildlife, which will be featured in this project.  Strong wildlife photography is very effective in promotion of tourism, as people the world over relate to animals and tends to keep strong images of animals for long periods of time.

In addition to economic development and the valuable investment in the skills of local people, at the completion of the project all of the images will be donated Tourism of Cambodia (The photographer will keep electronic copies of the images and will also have a full copyright), where they can be employed to raise money through the stock sales of photographic images for years to come.

January 1st, 2009_Phnom Penh, Cambodia_ Buddhist monks enjoy an afternoon on the banks of the Tonle Sap River in the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh. Photographer: Daniel J. Groshong/Tayo Photo Group

Cambodia has the potential to benefit from literally millions of dollars worth of free positive advertising which will be generated by this project and perhaps even more importantly, Cambodia and it’s people will truly have a way to share with the world the pride they have in the rich and diverse culture, landscape and wildlife which exists in this great land.

Those familiar with this land know that Cambodia is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries anywhere in the world and posses a richness that is beyond words.  It is the job of the Cambodian Government and it’s friends to actively and assertively promote Cambodia as the jewel that it is and short of bring every one in the world here to Cambodia, we must take Cambodia to the world and what a better tool is there for doing that, then good photography well presented?

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