WHAT IT MEANS
There are many Tonle Sap floating tour options in Siem Reap. While there are some great options, the majority of tourists end up at Chong Kneas, a tourism trap that prioritizes profits and causes harm to the very communities visited. At Community First: Kompong Khleang Floating Village Tours, we are try to do something different that is meaningful for both guests and residents.
To us, responsible tourism seeks to promote traditional tourist activities but avoids (or at least minimizes) some of the negative social, cultural, and economic impacts created by other programs. This type of programming also directly benefits tourists by creating a more meaningful connection to the country and community visited. After the tour, guests will have developed a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, educational and economic issues these communities face and, if they wish, will be given opportunities to get involved and address some of these issues through the non-profit we support.
Responsible and sustainable tourism is at the heart of our mission and is something all of our staff members understand and are passionate about. We are not perfect but try our best and are constantly reevaluating our tour. We encourage guests to share their opinions and ways we might make the tour more beneficial for both Kompong Khleang and its guests.
HOW IT'S DONE
We believe we promote responsible tourism in a variety of ways including the following:
Respectfully discouraging any tourism to the floating villages of Chong Kneas which has become one of many tourist traps with no community benefits
Seeking and receiving the on-going approval of residents of the village as well as the village and commune chief. This includes involving them in any significant tour decisions and asking for their advice implementing new educational projects
Choosing to employ staff that come from the the village we visit. Salaries are shared with their families, reinvested in the community, and not removed by foreign or out-of-town tour operators
Training staff about and enforcing a child and community protection policy at the village
Reinvesting profits in the community via local staff salaries, free educational programming at Bridge of Life School, and community projects
Discussing and promoting awareness about the various social, economic, and educational issues faced and offering ways for guests to get involved after the tour
Promoting transparency by disclosing our profits and expenses to guests and not adding any hidden costs or fees during the tour (more below)
We believe responsible tourism providers should do their best to be fully transparent with guests regarding the cost of the tour, the profits earned from the tour, and how those profits are utilized to help the community.
In order to promote transparency we have created a pie chart that breaks-down our tour expenses. It assumes we have 4 participants for which we would earn $140.
The majority of our costs are transportation related. Additional costs include the salary of Paren, our guide who comes from the village. There are also small costs like our guest snacks (which somewhat fluctuates) and a tourism tax. After all these expenses we would earn approximately $63 for the school.
Please note we occasionally have to pay a commission of $2-3 to hotels who facilitate the booking of a tour. If we don't, they often misinform tourists (saying we canceled or are closed) so they can earn a higher commission elsewhere. While it is somewhat frustrating it is a very common practice in Siem Reap and in the tourism industry in general. As a result we ask, if possible, to contact us directly so we can ensure you receive proper information about the tour.