Published on 4 October 2013
The Associate Director of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Sustainability Research Centre has received two prestigious awards from the Cambodian Government at a special ceremony in Sihanoukville.
USC Associate Professor in Heritage Resource Management Bill Carter has returned from Cambodia where he received the two Sahak Metrey Medals.
“The first was the equivalent of a gold medal, the highest Order the Government can give to a foreigner,” Dr Carter said. He was nominated by Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism for outstanding assistance with the sustainable tourism development of the country.
The second was the equivalent of a bronze medal. He was nominated by the Governor of Preah Sihanouk, on behalf of four coastal provincial governors, for outstanding achievement in advocating sustainable tourism in Cambodia’s coastal zone.
“The Prime Minister also acknowledged the broader contributions of USC in his speech read to the audience by the Minister of Tourism,” Dr Carter said.
USC Sustainability Research Centre Director Professor Tim Smith said: “These are very significant awards for USC’s service to Cambodia, and an excellent reflection of the impact of Bill’s research in the region.”
Dr Carter and a team of USC staff and students have spent five years working with Cambodia, including preparing, researching and producing the new report, ‘Strategic Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism on the Khmer Coast’.
“Rapid tourism growth in Cambodia is driving the need for sustainable planning and development in the coastal areas, to protect environmental values while enhancing economic growth,” he said.
“Last year I took nine students and two staff to visit the four provinces we address in the report – Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampot and Koh Kong. We gathered data and interviewed officials responsible for environmental protection, fisheries management, planning and public health.
“We’ve aimed to present the role tourism can play in integrated coastal management. That involves infrastructure development, such as power, water and sewerage, and investigating potential tourism products and services.
“While Sihanoukville is a tourist centre now, other provinces with high poverty levels don’t have the knowledge and capacity to offer tourism products at the moment.”
Dr Carter will take another group of students to Cambodia in March-April to look at community-based tourism.
“I’ll also be in Cambodia twice more this year, to chair a session of the United Nations World Conference on eco-tourism and heritage tourism and to facilitate an ASEAN workshop on community-based tourism,” he said.
The student travel was part of USC’s Global Opportunities (GO) Program. Assistance with travel and research was supported by the Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research and the Australian Government.
Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism Dr Thong Khon said: “These strategic guidelines provide clear direction for tourism planning, development and management in the coastal zone. They incorporate the vision and policies of the Royal Government of Cambodia and can form the basis for action by my Ministry and the Provincial Governments.”
— Julie Schomberg