“I have an opportunity to study at the university because my workplace provides me,” said Sina Peang, 22, a full time sales person at the Watthan Artisans Cambodia in Phnom Penh.​​ Being able to work without a bachelor’s degree, Peang is earning nearly $200 a month that allows her to continue her studies in the evening.

Sina Peang
Sina Peang, sales person in the gift shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

She skipped a year at the university after graduating from high school because of financial difficulties, along with her hesitation about where and what to learn.

“Now, I am able to pay for the school fees and daily expenses, save some money in the bank and send a quarter to my parents at the province,” said Peang.

The 22-year old woman began her career as a part-time sales person at the handicraft shop where the staff and producers were mostly disabled. It helps provide jobs for the likes of Peang and 20 others, who are mostly underprivileged.

Rising number of tourists

Kaka Eusebio
Kara Eusebio shops her first gift for herself from Cambodia.

The shop had a lot of visitors and buyers, who learned about it from friends, tour guides and the internet, as the number of tourists increased in Cambodia.

Taking advantage of the growing tourism, the company opened in 2015 a branch along the riverside in the capital that resembles a metropolitan, where European tourists gathered.  This resulted to an increase in sales revenue by 20 percent, said Phireak Taing, general manager.

The number of foreign visitor arrivals in Cambodia increased by 5 percent last year compared to that of 2014, mainly from Vietnam, China and Korea, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Some tourists came from the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

The annual total revenue from tourism industry is equivalent to 16 percent of the gross domestic product at market prices of $16.78 billion in 2014, according to the World Bank.

About 68 percent of the tourism revenue was generated from hotel occupancies. The average stay of a tourist is from six to seven days, according to the ministry.

Phireak Taing
Phireak Taing, general manager of the Watthan Artisans Cambodia.

Local community revenue

A tourist from South Korea, Kara Eusebio, 24, entered in the handicraft shop in March and bought a necklace and a small ornament for her first gift from Cambodia that cost a total of $30.

Group of tourist from China
Group of tourists from China visit a handicraft shop in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

“I rarely buy handmade products, but I enjoy that I can help people who have difficulty to work and need financial support,” said Eusebio, who recently worked in Myanmar for a humanitarian organization.

The government earns at least $3 billion a year from local community and other state-generated income.

“The money goes directly to the people and local businessmen, including vendors, small and medium enterprises that sell souvenirs, hotels, restaurants and so on,” Thong Khon, a tourism officer, said in December.

More jobs

Gift shop manager Phireak recruited more artisans to open another branch in Siem Reap, the location of Angkor complex of ancient temples, including the famous Angkor Wat.

The shop earned $250,000 in 2015, but the net profit was less than $10,000 because the expenses and revenue were almost equivalent, Phireak said.

Creating another branch is the company’s response to its customers’ needs. “Sometimes, orders overloaded our supply capacity, while other times our products were not sold,” he added.

About the author – Leanghort Sok

Leanghort

Leanghort Sok (Vephea) is a Hinrich Global Trade Leader Scholar. He got a full scholarship for Master of Arts in International Journalism Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2015.

He is currently a Sales Coordinator for Export Assistance Program Cambodia, undertaking a one year extended internship as part of the Work Integrated Learning program of the Hinrich Foundation. His internship will help better prepare him for a trade-related career in Cambodia after graduation.

Formerly a News Reporter for Cambodian News Channel (CNC TV), Leanghort also worked as a staff member at the Cambodian Mekong Bank.