Cambodia Tourism Recovery and Phare Circus

South East Asia Travel Show - Cambodia tourism recovery and Phare CIrcus

South East Asia Travel Show – Cambodia tourism recovery and Phare Circus

Countries that rely heavily on tourism were severely impacted by the COVID pandemic. In this episode, South East Asia Travel Show host Hannah Pearson chats with Craig Dodge, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for social enterprise Phare, The Cambodian Circus in Siem Reap. Craig shares a little about the origins of Phare Ponleu Selpak non-profit school, how Phare Circus came to be, how the organizations got through the pandemic, and post-COVID Cambodian tourism recovery.

From Healing Trauma to Traveler Delight: The Story of Phare

Many people Craig chats with are surprisingly unfamiliar with Cambodia’s brutal civil war. To bridge this gap, he recounts the origins of Phare, which began with art therapy classes for child refugees fleeing the Khmer Rouge in a refugee camp in Thailand. These classes, a beacon of hope in a dark time, ultimately led to the creation of Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-profit arts school. The Phare story continues, sharing how a social enterprise blossomed into one of Siem Reap’s most popular attractions. Phare’s success not only provides graduates with well-paying jobs, but also funnels revenue back into the school’s vital programs.

Adapting Through Crisis: Phare in the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a harsh spotlight on the challenges faced by Cambodia, which depends heavily on tourism. Visitors attending Phare Circus performances are a vital source of income for Phare Ponleu Selpak school. Craig describes the surreal experience of exploring the usually bustling Angkor temples in deserted silence, while the community grappled with the harsh reality of lost income. Yet, this is also a story of resilience. Phare’s community, both within Cambodia and among its international supporters, rallied together. Their unwavering determination showcases the true Cambodian “grit” – a quality that shines through even in the darkest of times.

Cambodia’s Tourism Puzzle: Rebuilding After the Pandemic

Despite being the first Southeast Asian nation to reopen after COVID, Cambodia’s tourism industry faces a slow recovery. Hannah and Craig delve into possible reasons behind this, a puzzling contrast to the country’s wealth of unique experiences and historical treasures. They discuss the importance of destination marketing and online booking for experience providers. By making themselves readily discoverable during travel planning, these providers can capture the attention of potential visitors eager for immersive cultural and historical tours. This online presence is crucial in a competitive travel landscape.

About The South East Asia Travel Show

Launched in January 2020, The South East Asia Travel Show weekly podcast charts the shifting travel landscapes of the 10 ASEAN countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Each episode analyses the hottest topics for inbound, outbound, domestic and intra-ASEAN travel and tourism. We also discuss important travel developments in key Asia Pacific markets, such as China, India, South Korea, Australia and Japan. Plus, we speak with experts in dynamic global travel markets, such as the US, Russia, UK and Europe.

Craig Dodge , Phare Circus Director of Sales and Marketing, presenting at Arival Activate conference

About the Author - Craig Dodge

Craig Dodge is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Phare Performing Social Enterprise, parent company of Phare, The Cambodian Circus and Phare Creative Studio. Craig gets great satisfaction by applying his travel industry experience to Phare's missions of sustaining jobs in the arts and funding artistic and academic education at Phare Ponleu Selpak non-profit school. He is also driven to promote the unique experiences awaiting visitors to Cambodia. When he's not working, you can often find Craig cycling in Angkor park.

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