Officials from Cambodia and India yesterday met in Siem Reap to discuss cooperation in the tourism industry as part of a high-level dialogue mechanism.
During the second meeting of a joint committee set up in 2016, officials from both countries agreed to strengthen tourism cooperation, particularly with regards to the establishment of a direct air link between Phnom Penh and New Delhi.
Earlier this week, Phnom Penh hosted the ‘Incredible India Road Show’, which aimed to promote India as a destination for Cambodian tourists, as well as to create new partnerships between Indian and local companies in the tourism industry.
Tashmi Verma, Secretary of State at India’s Tourism Ministry, said the committee is now working on a strategy to further collaboration between the countries in tourism.
“Stronger cooperation in tourism will be beneficial for both countries in terms of economic growth and job creation,” she said.
The flow of tourists between Cambodian and India has increased remarkably in the last few years, said Thong Khon, the Cambodian Minister of Tourism. He said many Cambodians travel to India to visit religious landmarks, while Indians like to visit the Kingdom to experience local weddings or as part of pilgrimages.
“In many ways, both countries have a similar appeal for tourists, and both have huge potential for tourism. This is why we need to boost cooperation with India in the sector,” Mr Khon said.
Mr Khon and Ms Tashmi said they are now conducting talks with civil aviation bodies to expedite the creation of a direct air link.
Chhay Sivlin, the president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said the committee has been hugely successful in strengthening ties between the countries, and may soon succeed in creating the first direct flight between Phnom Penh and New Delhi.
“India is a popular new destination for Cambodians. We are now working on new tour packages in India to offer our clients,” Ms Sivlin said.
Manika Jain, India’s Ambassador to Cambodia, pointed out that India has a lot to offer beyond religious tourism.
“India is now a leading destination for medical tourism, and Cambodians have already started visiting India for medical check-ups and treatment,” she said.
In 2016, around 15,000 Cambodians visited India, according to the ambassador.
Last year, 60,000 Indians travelled to the Kingdom, a 30 percent year-on-year increase, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.