Eight Million Domestic Tourists

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PHNOM PENH, March 14, 2014 (Khmer Times) –  While 8 million local tourists traveled nationwide last year, Cambodia recorded over 4.2 million inbound tourists as well.
Among this number about 30,000 visitors  called on the to the Sambor Prei Kuk temple complex  at Kompong Thom.
Most of them were  Europeans, Chinese and Koreans. This zone attracted over 100 international tourists daily during the high season or about 3,000 tourists monthly. In 2020, the tourism ministry predicts the site will absorb about 100,000 tourists, excluding the domestic visitors.
The ministry will establish a tour program to this site, by cooperating with the travel agencies to prolong the tourist stay.
As tourists used to go directly to the temple and leave soon after, they plan to prolong tourist stay by introducing them to the cashew plantation, cashew shelling center, community market, silk weaving center, night performance, and homestay.
Kompong Thom has only six attractions  including the natural, cultural and amusement  places and few more sites have the  potentials to be upgraded into the province’s list of attraction, says Seng Ann, Director of Kompong Thom Tourism Department. “Sambor Prei Kuk complex will become a major attraction site in this province after the facilities in this project are fully operational.”
The ministry will expand such tourist community center with more local start-up opportunities to other zones in the country after the accomplishment of this project.
However, it turns up that some people worry that all these facilities will be shut down once the project is completed this year and they would return to their previous living condition.
Responding to this worry, Tith Chantha says the ministry has set up a sustainable management mechanism that would survive  after the project’s completion.
Through this mechanism, a project advisory board that combines all relevant parties has been established and they will work to ensure these facilities will survive and prosper,” he said. “We will let the people manage it by themselves, we don’t interfere, but we just support them from behind.”
An ADB  grant for Improving Market Access for the Poor in Central Cambodia,  designed to leverage the benefits of the ADB-financed Rural Road Improvement Project is  currently under implementation.
Once completed, this rural enhancement program will improve physical access to markets and social services by rehabilitating 505.4 km of rural roads in seven provinces, including the 28 kilometer stretch of road linking the Sambor Prei Kuk temple site to National Road 6.
Where it used to take up to two hours to access the temples from Kampong Thom town, the journey is expected to be cut to 30 minutes, when the road is ready.
Once road improvements are completed, the expected influx of tourists to Sambor Prei Kuk temple has the potential to provide a wider market for Kampong Thom’s entrepreneurs, be a driver of local job creation and income generation for local communities  who will also be   prepared to access this new market.
The road improvements will also facilitate access to supply chains linked to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

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