For the third consecutive year, World Responsible Tourism Day was celebrated in Siem Reap. This year, on 8 November 2011, Soria Moria Boutique Hotel hosted the event which put focus on how all the stakeholders, together, can embrace the principles of Responsible Tourism and play a positive part in making Siem Reap “a better place for people to live in and for people to visit.” The official handover of Soria Moria Boutique Hotel to the local employees was also done in conjunction with World Responsible Tourism Day event with representatives from various Ministries, hotels, guesthouses, tour operators, vocational training schools and local NGOs present.
The evening commenced with a welcome note by Thomas Holdo Hansen, WHL Cambodia, followed by speeches by Mr Chong Sokhhemarak, Deputy Director of Ministry of Tourism Siem Reap, and Ms Ra Kolap from ConCERT Cambodia (Connecting Communities, Environment and Responsible Tourism). The formal part of the evening was concluded with the official handover of the ownership certificate by Ms Kristin Hansen, founder of Soria Moria Boutique Hotel/Soria Moria Educational Development Program to Ms Sam Sokha, Mr Yin Sochen, Mr Rouen Samnieng, Ms Eam Chandy and Ms Sim Sakana, representing the 32 employees in Soria Moria Boutique Hotel. Sam Sokha, on behalf of the staff, officially thanked Insitor Fund, Ken Oishi and Kristin Hansen for their hard work, compassion and generosity in making this happen. The evening culminated in networking with drinks and finger food being served on the rooftop bar, and live performance by Norwegian singer Hilde Marie Kvaløsæter.
The event was covered by the Cambodian national TV channel CTN and blogged and tweeted on various social networks sites promoting responsible tourism. Please click on the thumbnails below to see the full size photos from the evening.
Soria Moria Educational Developmentment Programme In May 2011 the local personnel at Soria Moria Boutique Hotel were made partners and majority owners in the hotel business in an initiative to empower locals through ownership. In partnership with Insitor Fund, a Cambodia-based social venture capital fund, the legal and financial structure has been set up enabling the transfer of 51% of the shares of the Hotel to its local employees. This means that every staff member, from housekeeper to management, has a share of ownership in the business. By being share owners, the employees are able to take part in the decision making process and share any profits made. It also enables the employees to play an important role in giving something back to their own community and give themselves a real opportunity to improve theirs and their family’s life circumstances, most of who have come from impoverished backgrounds. Soria Moria Educational Development Program is the first project of its kind in Cambodia, and hopefully the structure set up to empower the locals through ownership can be a good model for others to duplicate in the future.