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Footprints Café in Cambodia founded by former Cambridge student included in Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list.

Footprints Café is a restaurant, bookshop and event space in one, with more than 3,000 book titles donated by supporters and friends all over the world.

A social venture in Cambodia founded by a former Cambridge Judge Business School student has been included in the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list.

The list by Lonely Planet this year has been refocused on sustainability and community at a time of disruption to the travel industry.

Footprints Café, founded by alumna Georgina Hemmingway, and supported by the Business School in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, was cited by the judges for its work in helping to lift people out of poverty.

Footprints Café was supported by the Cambridge Social Ventures programme, part of the Business School’s Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation.

Georgina earned the postgraduate diploma in entrepreneurship at the school in 2014, and is a past president and active participant in the school’s Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre.

Georgina said: “We are delighted to be included in the Lonely Planet list, and especially this year given the focus on community and sustainability.

The journey of Footprints Café shows that social enterprise can make a big difference in people’s lives while providing a really valuable service

Located in the northwestern Cambodia town of Siem Reap, near the fabled Angkor Wat temple complex, the largest religious building in the world, Footprints Café blends traditional Khmer cuisine with a unique approach to co-working, economically empowering the local community.


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Footprints Café is a restaurant, bookshop and event space in one, with more than 3,000 books donated by supporters and friends all over the world.

It also sells books, gift cards and notepads for local charities and social enterprises.

Lonely Planet said: “What impressed our panel most about the Footprint Café was that in a province where an estimated 45 per cent of residents live below the poverty line, it was a project deliberately set up to make a difference and help locals escape that cycle of poverty.

By providing access to employment and training, plus heavily discounted or free coworking space to Cambodian start-ups, the benefits are already being felt with a number of successful local businesses and projects spring-boarding from the café, such as a literary program for vulnerable girls.

It also invests 100 per cent of its net profits back into the community as grants for local educational or entrepreneurial projects, and has ethically-sourced local produce available in the café too, creating a sustainable business cycle.

Due to the upheaval in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Best in Travel List included not just places, but people and communities for the first time.

Lonely Planet added that the list has been “refocused to showcase transformative travel, which encourages travellers to find authentic and mindful moments during their journeys”.

Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said: “Travel is a much more considerate exercise in 2021 than it has been ever before.

Best in Travel 2021 champions people, places and organisations that are making travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when Covid-19 has disrupted and deprioritised travel.

Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community and inclusivity and showcases how we can best explore the world responsibly.”

The above article by Charlotte Page first published on in Nov, 2020.