Cambodia will be the host of an upcoming high-level tourism forum that aims to strengthen cooperation in the sector with China.
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The Cambodia-China Tourism Forum will take place in May in Cambodia. No official announcement has been made regarding the city that will host the event.
Following a meeting with public officials and the private sector, Tith Chantha, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism, told reporters the forum will help bring more investment from China.
“The Cambodia-China Tourism Forum 2018 will strengthen the relationship between Cambodia and China, particularly when it comes to collaboration in the tourism sector. We expect to see more investment from China as a result,” Mr Chantha said.
The forum will gather high-ranking officials and prominent members of the private sector, he explained, adding that participants will include travel agencies and tour operators.
Mr Chantha said that Cambodia is now competing against other tourism destinations worldwide to attract Chinese travellers abroad, whose numbers are rising quickly and are expected to reach 200 million in the next two years.
He said to increase the kingdom’s appeal, the government needs to simplify the process of obtaining travel visas for Chinese nationals, add Chinese signage in the streets, offer Chinese language courses for employees in the hospitality industry and improve transportation in key urban centres and tourism spots.
“We can’t let this opportunity pass by. We need to prepare ourselves in order to welcome as many Chinese tourists as possible,” he said.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, told Khmer Times that the Ministry of Tourism should establish courses to train Chinese-speaking tour guides, pointing to a lack of such professionals in the kingdom.
“Now, we have about 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting and we already lack tour guides,” he said. “What will happen when we reach 2 million visitors?”
According to the latest draft of the ministry’s strategy for developing the sector’s human capital, Cambodia needs to form 50,000 tourism professionals every year between now and 2025 to cope with the surge in tourists.
Last year, Cambodia welcomed 1.2 million Chinese visitors, and expects at least 1.8 million in 2018.