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Challenges facing the Siem Reap tuk-tuk workforce in a changing tourism environment.

Leith, Craig


Craig Leith


Cristina Sousa

Isabel Vaz de Freitas

Jorge Marques


Tourists have long used tuk-tuks as a convenient, cheap and enjoyable way to travel around when visiting many Asian cities. Significant changes in the tourism environment have led to challenges for the tuk-tuk workforce in some of their traditional cities of operation. This paper focuses on the tuk-tuk industry in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where an estimated 6,000 people make their living from tuk-tuk driving. Siem Reap continues to see a significant increase in tourists which is being met by investment in tourism provision including increased hotel construction and international air links. In June 2019, in-depth interviews were carried out with twenty tourism dependent Siem Reap tuk-tuk drivers. The aim of the research is to identify the recent key changes of tourism from the perspective of tuk-tuk drivers, and how these changes had impacted on their work and life. A range of changes in the tourism environment were identified including demographic changes of tourists, increased tourist use of social media and online accommodation booking, greater expectation of foreign language ability and recent market entry of tuk-tuk on-demand mobile apps. Impacts included greater periods waiting for custom, pressure to accept lower fares, general financial worries due to lack of guaranteed income, and pressure to work longer hours to the detriment of family life. Concern was expressed by participants for the ultimate survival of the city's tuk-tuk's industry. The research highlights the implications for a tourism dependent workforce in a city undergoing significant tourism development and linked economic generation. The study results suggest that it is the cumulative changes to a tourism environment rather than changes in tourist numbers which can have the greatest impact on a particular sector within a destination or city. The findings would be of use to public organisations involved in tourism development.


LEITH, C. 2019. Challenges facing the Siem Reap tuk-tuk workforce in a changing tourism environment. In Sousa, C., Vaz de Freitas, I. and Marques, J. (eds.) Proceedings of the 2nd International conference on tourism research (ICTR 2019), 14-15 March 2019, Porto, Portugal. Reading: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited [online}, pages 166-172. Available from:

Conference Name 2nd International conference on tourism research (ICTR 2019)
Conference Location Porto, Portugal
Start Date Mar 14, 2019
End Date Mar 15, 2019
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2019
Publication Date Jun 30, 2019
Deposit Date Aug 8, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 8, 2019
Publisher Academic Conferences and Publishing International
Pages 166-172
Series ISSN 2049-9870
ISBN 9781912764136
Keywords Cambodia; Tuk-tuks; Tourism environment; Workforce; Tourism cumulative changes
Public URL
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