Development of a Regional Ecotourism Development Plan for the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia

  • Client: Cambodia Ministry of Environment
  • Partners: Emerging360
  • Project Duration: August 2021 - July 2023


Covered by a lush rainforest, the Cardamom Mountains in Southwestern Cambodia are home to many unique flora and fauna, including threatened species. Although ecotourism and community-based ecotourism products are well established in Cambodia, there remains a largely untapped potential to increase its market share. There is a substantial potentially for developing rural ecotourism across the Cardamom Mountains landscape, which alongside related non-timber forest product value chains, can realize inclusive growth for rural communities. This will improve income opportunities and overall well-being for local residents, enhance their access to key resources and information, and support biodiversity conservation of natural resources. Additionally, this development will contribute to spreading tourists across multiple parts of the country, reducing overtourism, encouraging longer lengths of stay, and increasing tourist expenditures.

The goal of this project is to prepare a six-year Regional Ecotourism Development Plan for three priority destinations that are to be developed as hubs for ecotourism, based on in-depth understanding of local conditions. Solimar International, in collaboration with Emerging360, will conduct an extensive analysis of the existing circumstances in the destinations, future potential and recommended interventions, benchmarking with destination development models from around the world. The plan will rely on validated desk and field research, involving a large number of local stakeholders in order to create a shared vision for ecotourism development, which will facilitate its implementation in the future. As part of the analysis, appropriate investment opportunities will be presented, as well as the potential positive and negative social and environmental impacts that may result from these interventions.

Major Activities

  • Formulate a detailed work plan and methodology
  • Conduct desk research to review existing ecotourism visions, destination development plans and other relevant tourism plans to assess their feasibility, results if implemented, and potential use for this assignment
  • Through primary field research, assess existing tourist product offers, identify existing and desired markets, reveal infrastructure and connectivity challenges, assess avenues of socio-economic impact and understand environmental governance issues
  • Conduct key informant interviews with a diverse range of stakeholders related to the (eco)tourism value chain, with the aim of identifying key concerns, constraints and challenges as well as success factors
  • Conduct interactive participatory consultation and validation workshops with key stakeholders in order to recurrently test the early concepts of the recommended solutions, integrate feedback and reformulate them respectively
  • Produce assessment reports and plan drafts to be reevaluated with the client and stakeholders
  • Finalize Regional Ecotourism Development Plan and assist in the development of highly visual development visions for each of the priority destinations


  • A regional Ecotourism Development Plan recommending ecotourism models that will match the context of the protected areas, building on existing local livelihoods
  • Investment plans that prioritize and sequence innovative, actionable and market-based interventions regarding private sector and local community involvement, infrastructure, destination governance and environmental management, and other relevant investments for successful and sustainable tourism development at the priority destinations
  • A shared vision as to the desired outcomes from the strategy development and implementation process, that will be actively supported by a broad cross section of stakeholder
  • Strengthen the management of the rich and diverse natural capital of the Cardamom Mountains

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