Published on 9 April 2014
The Cambodian Minister of Tourism, His Excellency Dr Thong Khon will become an Honorary Doctor of the University of the Sunshine Coast on Thursday 10 April.
Dr Thong will receive the honorary doctorate at USC’s Communication and Social Sciences graduation ceremony at 11am.
Dr Thong, who is also President of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, will be recognised for his significant international contributions to sustainable and community-based tourism.
It will be the only honorary doctorate among four honorary awards to be presented at USC’s four graduation ceremonies over 10-11 April.
Dr Thong visited USC after his arrival from Phnom Penh via Brisbane today to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between USC, Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism and Griffith University.
The MoU will guide collaborative research, training and advancement of sustainable tourism and community development in Cambodia.
USC’s Professor Bill Carter said the three organisations would target areas such as heritage resource management, public and ecosystem health and alleviation of poverty.
“This agreement aims to develop a solid research base for decision-making and to provide learning opportunities for USC and Griffith students on Cambodian issues,” he said. “It builds on our long-standing relationship with Cambodia.”
In 2014 four USC staff will again visit Cambodia, 11 undergraduate students will travel there as part of USC’s GO (Global Opportunities) program, and four PhD students will continue their work there.
Dr Thong, who has been Minister of Tourism since 2007, is recognised within ASEAN countries as a champion of sustainable and community-based tourism.
He has strongly advocated for Cambodia to create products that protect natural and cultural heritage and contribute to the maintenance of cultural integrity and sustainable livelihoods.
He and his team have been working with USC’s Sustainability Research Centre through a government-funded AusAID Australian Leadership Award Fellowship program.
The project aims to address issues in the Asia-Pacific region including international trade, security, pandemics, climate change and clean energy.
Dr Thong, who is also medically trained, has combined his vision for sustainable tourism and his influence in politics to improve the community and economic health of Cambodia’s population.
— Julie Schomberg