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‘Cyber PM’ Calls for Swifter Wi-fi at Airports

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen checking his phone at Phnom Penh International Airport during the inauguration of the new terminal. KT/Mai Vireak

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has recently found an outlet for his charming side in cyber space, called for swifter wi-fi at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday while inaugurating the expansion of its terminal.
The prime minister told airport officials that the first thing he does on an overseas trip is email his wife and let her know he’s safe as soon as he arrives. So, having a swift wi-fi connection at Phnom Penh’s expanding airport is vital, he said.
He also asked airport officials to check the wi-fi speed at the Kingdom’s other two international airports – in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.  Apart from questioning the speed of the Internet connection, the prime minister said the expanded terminal at Phnom Penh International Airport would enhance services to all those visiting Cambodia.
Mr. Hun Sen spoke to officials, executives from public and private institutions, students and ambassadors at the grand opening ceremony yesterday, noting that the expansion was taking place to keep up with the rising number of foreign tourists visiting Cambodia. He added that all levels of officials working in the airport play important roles in ensuring visitors have a good first impression of Cambodia, which will make them want to return.
“I call on all officials in the airport, customs office, immigration office and all relevant stakeholders to keep working hard and to make Cambodia a better connection point for the tourism sector by providing a good experience to all travelers who are arriving in Cambodia for the first time,” he said. “Please don’t cause any inconvenience when serving foreign travelers and do not give them any bad experiences or trouble in the airport or at tourism sites.”
He said that if all airport and tourism officials ensure visitors enjoyed their experience they would invite their families to visit Cambodia again. Warm interactions are more important than advertising Cambodia on CNN, he added.
“Today we have the grand opening of a new expanded terminal in a Cambodian airport and we are happy that there is an increasing number of tourists,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “If there were no tourists, there would be no need to construct this building – Cambodia has gone from zero tourists to more than 4.7 million last year, due to political stability and the open skies policy,” he explained.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said peace and political stability are fundamental for all sectors to develop, especially civil aviation and tourism. The government’s open skies policy has helped develop tourism enormously, he said. Foreign visitors to Cambodia had increased from 200,000 in 1997 to more than 4.7 million last year, he added.
“This will contribute to the development of Cambodia’s civil aviation and tourism sectors and both fields play an important role in developing the country’s economy and society,” Mr. Sok An said.
He added that the aviation industry played an important role in the economies of each country in the world, while the new terminal will help reduce the wait for travelers arriving by air. He said the expansion of the terminal allows it to receive at least 5 million people every year and new, cutting-edge technology is making it more efficient and safe. Xavier Huillard, chairman and chief executive officer of Vinci group – the French company that has the concession to operate the airport through its subsidiary Cambodia Airports – said the expanded terminals at Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport were the result of good cooperation between the public and private sectors and would benefit the government and the country economically.
“The number of travelers through both airports has drastically increased since 2009, especially from 2010 and 2013, with a surge of more than 15 percent. Both airports have welcomed more than 3 million foreign tourists,” Mr. Huillard said. “With the expanded terminals we will welcome 5 million travelers annually.”
Mr. Xavier said safety is the most important thing for his company, which has equipped the terminals with new registering systems and added more than 32 booths for immigration officers in Phnom Penh. Other new equipment includes the latest luggage transferring system.
He said both projects had an investment of about $100 million, which covered the cost of modern scanning machines for luggage, wi-fi, and new restaurants and shops.
“Phnom Penh International Airport could welcome from 8-10 million and Siem Reap 6 million, while Sihanoukville airport would receive more than 12 million per year if there is proper management,” he said.
State Secretary of Civil Aviation spokesman Sin Chanserey Vutha said 39 airlines, including charter flights, arrive at Cambodian airports every day.
Ho Vandy, president of World Express Tours and Travel, said the newly renovated terminals will make moving through the airports easier. This will give Cambodia a new image as the country’s aviation sector develops in the early stages of the ASEAN Economic Community and will help promote the country to tourists and investors from around the world, he said.   
According to Cambodia Airports, the country’s airports handled more than 696,000 passengers and 13,000 flights in the first month of this year, up 3 and 5.8 percent respectively compared with January 2015. Phnom Penh International Airport welcomed more than 289,000 passengers in January this year, an increase of 8.1 percent over the same month last year.
Siem Reap International Airport handled more than 394,000 passengers in January, a decrease of 1.1 percent compared with the same month in 2015.
Passenger traffic at Sihanouk International Airport continued to grow, surging 31.3 percent year on year to 11,668 passengers in the first month of the year.

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