Trek Guide and Cook
In Chi Phat, Wildlife Alliance and the community members are working together to preserve the environment while providing exciting and unique experiences for visitors. Villagers who once roamed the forest to deplete it of its environmental heritage are now employed as guides leading trekking, mountain-biking, camping, and river boat tours through the wilderness surrounding both communities. By creating stakeholders out of local residents, the impetus to keep improving the project is strong and those villagers who have joined the CBET and participated in its activities have seen their incomes grow exponentially.
In June, the Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project welcomed a new Project Manager, Martin Leighfield. Originally from the UK, Martin has lived and worked in Cambodia for over 16 years. He has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and has also developed a community-based tourism project on Koh Trong Island in Kratie province. He has a lot of great ideas for the project, and we are very excited to have him on the team. He has already begun implementing several new initiatives to expand the project, as well as improve the tourism experience. He has started to institute a new computerized booking system and is currently updating the CBET website. For the upcoming year, Martin has plans to improve the communication skills of the trek guides through classes, initiate a volunteer program, and create more child-friendly activities at the project.
This January, CBET signed an agreement with Andoung Teuk Transport Association to partner in transporting guests to and from Chi Phat by boat. This agreement was endorsed by the provincial Department of Transportation and both commune leaders. Previously, very few boats ran, and visitors had to hire a whole boat ($30), and it was hard to team up with others to share the cost. Arriving guests suffered confusion and harassment at Andoung Teuk, and were ill-disposed to CBET before arriving. Now, every day at 7:00am, at least one 4-passenger boat leaves Chi Phat, taking guests to catch buses at Andoung Teuk. The boat driver waits to bring guests back at about 1:00pm. The visitor center sells tickets ($10 one-way), and pays boat drivers $25 per round trip. CBET inaugurated the scheduled boat services to Andoung Teuk last month. Also, a new bar was also built in the visitor center. The bar will serve as an area where guests will receive pre-trek talks, to better inform visitors about the project and what to expect.
It is currently the peak season for tourism in Cambodia, and in January alone, CBET received 350 domestic visitors and 169 international visitors. The project earned a total income of $19,021.11, of which $13,635.08 went to villagers and $5,386.03 to the CBET community fund. New members were admitted to CBET, and there are now 250 members. These new successes and improvements would not have been possible without your support!