The initial CBT project lasted two years, but a strong bond was formed between the Khiri Travel educational travel team and the community. Although the tourism project was successful, many nearby villagers were still suffering from poor housing and a low standard of living. A simple mattress and a basic toilet for hosting homestay guests was more than they could afford. Khiri Travel devised a new program to offer Sambor Prei Kuk’s authentic tourism in exchange for volunteer work building homes and performing community service.
This experience made it clear that a destination management company, even one with an educational travel division and unwavering commitment to sustainability, can not be as successful as a company dedicated first and foremost to community development. At the same time, the synergies between Khiri Travel and what developed into GROUND are unmistakable: both companies’ entrepreneurial vision of small business as a catalyst for sustainability, Khiri Travel’s depth of experience in travel and tourism in Asia, and GROUND’s understanding of how to apply youth travellers, student and business teams to community development.