Hotel group steps up support for Cambodian youth

World September 12, 2017 10:25

By The Nation

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Swiss-Belhotel International is demonstrating its firm commitment to helping young people achieve sustainable goals through tourism education and career opportunities.

This month the company is stepping up its support for a series of initiatives that provide training for students at the Sala Bai Hotel School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

The charitable academy was established in 2002 to enable Cambodian teenagers, especially girls, to escape poverty and human trafficking fuelled by years of civil war and persecution. 

Gavin M Faull, chairman and president of Swiss-Belhotel International, has been a supporter of the Sala Bai Hotel School since he helped establish Friends of Sala Bai Australia in 2005 in partnership with Blue Mountains Hotel School in Sydney. 

The Friends host annual events where contributors meet to raise funds and share their passion for supporting underprivileged young Cambodians through relevant education and training. 

Having developed a strong relationship with the school over the years, Swiss-Belhotel International has now made the academy its official industry charity. 

All of the group’s employees will be involved in a programme to raise funds for the school, a scholarship programme will launch this year, and senior staff will dedicate their time to provide valuable training for Sal Bai students. 

“As the hotel and hospitality industry expands in Cambodia, so do the number of job opportunities for local people,” says Faull. “Sala Bai Hotel School provides an essential bridge to connect underprivileged youngsters with job-focused education and training so that they can transform their lives.

“By sponsoring students and providing active, long-term support for the school, we believe Swiss-Belhotel International can make a real difference and help build a brighter future for these talented young people.”

Sala Bai Hotel School trains more than 100 students a year in a course that covers restaurant management, food and beverage preparation, front-office duties, housekeeping and beauty therapy. 

The courses are free and the school has so far trained more than 1,300 students. The final month of the 12-month programme is dedicated to a job search, and this has resulted in a 100-per-cent success rate to date. 

To involve guests in the initiative, Swiss-Belhotel International is launching a worldwide “Adopt a Bernie” campaign, beginning at all the group’s hotels in Australia and New Zealand. 

Bernie is the brand’s mascot, a cuddly version of the St Bernard rescue dog of Switzerland. The soft-toy is sold at Swiss-Belhotel outlets as a souvenir of the stay. 

In Australia and New Zealand, all Swiss-Belhotel International properties will have a basket of Bernies at the reception desk, along with a sign explaining the “Adopt a Bernie” initiative, highlighting the role of Sala Bai Hotel School. For every Bernie purchased, a share will be donated to the campaign. 

“Adopt a Bernie will do more than simply provide money,” Faull says. “Senior staff will be sent to help with hands-on training in Cambodia, and graduates from the school will be given the chance to work with us. We are starting the scholarship programme this year by selecting a student from Sala Bai to be employed at Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak in New Zealand.”

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