Key meeting boosts Kingdom’s sustainable tourism prospects

Key meeting boosts Kingdom’s sustainable tourism prospects

The Kingdom’s tourism industry got a shot in the arm with the visit of the top official of the China Metro Group who made a courtesy call on Minister of Tourism in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. The main thrust of the meeting was on cooperation in the tourism industry.

Sok Soken, Minister of Tourism played host to Li Kuo, General Director of China Metro Group along with other dignitaries at the Ministry of Tourism in the capital. The Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035 and the BUILD + 3Ds initiative were given top priority in the discussions that ensued. The emphasis was on the development of the Kingdom into a sustainable, competitive and inclusive tourism destination.

The Siem Reap Provincial Tourism Promotion and Attraction Strategic Plan 2023-2026 was initiated last year as a part of the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035. The three-year plan advocated a number of activities to attract both short-term and long-term tourists to Siem Reap. A total of 21 activities were identified from 2023 to 2026 to lure visitors to Siem Reap to achieve approximately three million international tourists in addition to four million domestic tourists by 2026.

Cambodia’s tourism industry has incredible potential, but many travellers simply aren’t aware of it, said Craig Dodge, Director of Sales and Marketing of Phare Circus. Instead of continually pressing for new attractions, Cambodia should shine a spotlight on the world-class experiences that already exist.

Travellers today research activities first, then choose their destination. By making local attractions and experiences easily bookable online, Cambodia can turn browsers into visitors. “Imagine the surge when travellers discover the breadth of options available in Cambodia.”

While the temples remain unquestionably Siem Reap’s assets and magnet, Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO and Founder of Millennium Destinations proposed a paradigm shift that elevates human connection. The Kingdom can showcase compelling narratives that highlight the warmth and hospitality of tour guides, tuk-tuk drivers, artisans, and the countless individuals who bring Siem Reap to life – from hoteliers to restaurateurs to museum staff.

One key area with immense potential is beach tourism, said Jeremie Clement, General Manager, Peninsula Phnom Penh. Sihanoukville, with its beautiful beaches, can be developed into a leading beach destination, attracting tourists seeking sun, sea, and sand. Additionally, there are several lesser-known islands such as Koh Ta Kiev, and Koh Thmei with pristine beaches that can be developed to offer exclusive and serene beach experiences, making Cambodia a strong competitor in the regional beach tourism market.

By promoting sustainable tourism practices, the plan can attract environmentally-conscious travelers who are looking for unique and responsible travel experiences, said Jean-Benoît Lasselin, managing partner at C4 Adventures. To boost tourist numbers, Cambodia can develop new attractions and activities focused on responsible tourism, sport tourism, and wellness tourism.

Responsible tourism initiatives could include community-based tourism projects, eco-lodges, and guided nature tours that educate visitors on local ecology and conservation efforts. Sport tourism can attract adventure enthusiasts through activities like mountain biking, trail running, and water sports. Wellness tourism can appeal to those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, with offerings such as yoga retreats, spa treatments, and meditation workshops.

By positioning Siem Reap as the starting point, visitors can be encouraged to extend their journeys to other regions, discovering the diverse and vibrant modern Cambodian culture. This approach can create a comprehensive travel experience, where tourists can appreciate both the historical significance and contemporary developments of Cambodia. (khmertimeskh)

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