Tourism

Home-grown Travel App Promotes Tourism Across Cambodia

A travel enthusiast has launched a community trip app to share personal experiences and showcase Cambodia’s lesser-known tourist spots.
Tourists visit Chreav Waterfall in Kampong Speu province on ‎May ‎23, ‎2021. Picture: Sam
Tourists visit Chreav Waterfall in Kampong Speu province on ‎May ‎23, ‎2021. Picture: Sam

It was during a 2018 trip to Koh Rong that Pech Soveaddh came up with the idea for Uot, an innovative travel community app that aims to provide a platform for travellers to share their experiences while throwing the spotlight on lesser-known spots.

“I had the best trip experience by taking a local boat for just $2.50 while many people took a speed boat for $22. The price was 10 times less with such a peaceful feeling on the sea along the way. So I thought this best experience should be known nationwide and internationally, but I couldn’t find a suitable platform to share this best experience,” he said.

A person scrolls down Uot app on an iPhone. Picture: Kiripost
A person scrolls down Uot app on an iPhone. Picture: Kiripost

Soveaddh started to conduct research into Cambodia’s tourism digital apps. He found there is a lack of apps that throw the spotlight on the Kingdom’s tourism sites and make them easy to find. Inspired by his experiences as a travel lover, he set about developing Uot App, one among a handful of digital communities for travelers across Cambodia.

“I formed a team of entrepreneurs and tech developers. We did a feasibility study, and found that digital platforms for real local Cambodian trip lovers is fragmented, which is not that powerful to share local trip experiences,” said Soveaddh, Uot's CEO and co-founder. 

A graduate with a Master’s of Engineering in Industrial Engineering from Thailand’s Mahidol University, Soveaddh told Kiripost that he worked with his four fellow co-founders to develop Uot.

Soveaddh said that they had seen challenges and opportunities in the age of smart tourism 4.0 and Cambodia is very beautiful in every part of the country. "Meanwhile, we have many local trip lovers who love to promote beautiful Cambodia. So we are moving the trip lover community into the digital world, where many people can enjoy the benefits of being a member.”

Uot founders from left to right - Pech Soveaddh, Chhor Vantha, Hel Sreyet, Tan Kimhak, Phou Sorphorn.
Uot founders from left to right - Pech Soveaddh, Chhor Vantha, Hel Sreyet, Tan Kimhak, Phou Sorphorn.

In addition, Uot has more than 5,000 users, and most of them harbor a strong passion for traveling across Cambodia. And his digital trip lover community has grown organically because he believes that current users are the real trip lovers who want to promote Cambodian tourism sites and attractions, Soveaddh said.

Initially, Soveaddh faced several challenges with his new initiative. This included team commitment, marketing and sales. In addition the Uot App is a long-term investment, as with some other technology companies.

Despite the struggles, he still sees the opportunity among the team of learning and improving to overcome these challenges due to their result-oriented mindset and willingness. 

In the future, his team wants to connect trip lovers from Cambodia to Asian countries and the globe through the Uot App.

“We are passionate about being a leading digital platform for the traveling community to support Cambodian tourism and enhance the domestic economy. Soon, we are going to release many more exciting functions, which are smarter, faster, and deliver real value for trip lovers,” he said.

Uot user and tourist guide, Korng Chomrong, 31, told Kiripost that Uot helps him discover more beautiful, off-the-beaten-track spots, and eco-tourism sites where he can take his tours.

He added that Uot can help him and Cambodian people find places to visit, especially picturesque hidden sites and some of the country’s most environmentally tenuous locales, not yet discovered by the mainstream media. Thus, has the potential to be a proactive app that allows users to find where they want to go with the help of the community.

“Uot is where I can easily post beautiful pictures of the places I have been to, and is a place where I can connect with other people who are interested in my postings, thus they might contact me to be their tour guide,” Chmrong said.

Pich Pisethneat, a Startup Incubation Lead at Impact Hub Phnom Penh, told Kiripost that Uot app has the potential to bring together local travel enthusiasts and influencers to share their personal experiences at local tourist destinations, especially in remote areas.

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The unique value proposition is to serve as the main source of information (as journal/contents format) for the local community, so they can gain more exposure to their fellow travelers, Pisethneat continued.

“Yes, Uot App has the potential to promote Cambodia tourism to local people if it focuses more on the rare, untapped locations that need visitors as part of their economy, “ he said.

Uot App is one of among 10 tourism startups to join the Khmer Tourism for Future Pitch Night under the theme of Khmer tourism, organized by Impact Hub Phnom Penh and Khmer Enterprise (KE) to promote Cambodia future tourism site visiting through digital platforms.

He added that Impact Hub Phnom Penh also supported Uot App through workshop, coaching, mentoring, mini-hack, network & connection, field trips, demo-days, and funding. After the pre-incubation phase and a competitive pitching event, Uot App team was selected to join the ‘Incubation Phase’ and was awarded $5,000 in grant funding from KE, a unit under Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

There are about 300 active technology startups currently operating in Cambodia. This figure is estimated to double in the next 2-3 years, according to Impact Hub Phnom Penh.

International tourist arrivals increased by 13.7% to 95,321 visitors in the first two months of 2022.