First thing this morning was a working breakfast at the Cambodiana Hotel as part of the award ceremony organised by USAID/Cambodia MSME and others to identify 6 winners from 14 eco-tourism/cultural initiatives that submitted their applications in this inaugural Hidden Treasures
contest. The local community-based projects were primarily from the south though there were two winners from the northwest as well. This is of course another good opportunity to promote sectors of Cambodia that don't normally see the limelight - as Angkor obviously captures the biggest chunk of PR in Cambodia - and this initiative by USAID is a good start, though lots more needs to be done to promote and improve not just the six winning projects. That'll be the next step. For now, the six winners were all present to receive their awards and they were: Chi Phat, Tataikrom, Peam Krasaop, Chambok, Banteay Chhmar and Phare Ponleu Selpak from Battambang.
There was a lot of talking from the man from the ministry but the important element is that the six projects were rewarded for the work they have done so far and the hope is that this will spur them onto greater things in the future. They are looking to capture the return visitor to Cambodia, who has seen Angkor and wants to get an experience that can be classed as being closer to the 'real' Cambodia. It goes without saying that this will require co-ordinated efforts from all sectors in the tourism industry to ensure the future success of these projects and others that will follow. The likelihood of that happening remains to be seen. It was interesting to me that two of the projects, Chi Phat and Tataikrom, used my own photos in their promotional material, which they obviously nicked from my blog. I have no problem with my pictures being used for non-profit purposes, but maybe next time they can ask.
This slide from Tataikrom, used one of my own photos from my recent trip to Tatai!