Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced international borders to be closed, domestic tourism has been the only choice for both locals and foreigners in Cambodia. With many now needing to look for a holiday or weekend getaway in the Kingdom.
In response, local authorities and communities are being pushed to improve the quality of their services, as well as, hygiene practises to encourage these domestic tourists.
As one tourism industry insider believes that eco-tourism sites across the country will become the popular choice, providing an opportunity for many local communities to generate significant income.
They are now asking government to increase the opportunities by creating more eco-tourism package through investment by the private sector and government support for infrastructure and other facilities.
This approach is hoped will enable the development of local communities and push the national economic growth with inclusive development.
Every year, Cambodia has more than two million Cambodian’s travel outside their country with border restrictions now providing a large market to tap into.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, told Khmer Times that she saw the government’s effort, especially the ministry of tourism, in pushing and promoting the internal tourism movement.
“They (the Ministry of Tourism) have prepared and worked with the local community to support tourism resorts,” she said. Sivlin added that some community tourism and eco-tourism sites lack appropriate standard to take advantages of their potential, as many tourist are afraid to use the onsite services.
“Tourism sites need to strengthen their services, quality and hygiene so they will be more attractive. This is especially true for natural tourism sites.” Sivlin added.
Preah Sihanouk tourism director Taing Sochet Krisna also told Khmer Times that the Preah Sihanouk province has collaborated with the local authority and local community in Prey Nop district and also some islands in Sihanoukville to create agri-tourism and eco-tourism sectors.
He said that the province will establish some eco-tourism site for local and international tourists who want to experience the natural environment.
“On our islands, we want to build home stays and setup tourism packages like swimming, trekking and boat-tourism. We will cooperate with both the local authority, inland community and on the island,” he added.
Krisna added that the development will not require a big investment. As eco-tourism sites are designed to bring visitor for the experience, take pictures and relax or study the nature.
Tourism Ministry’s spokesman Top Sopheak, said that at present, there is a trend among the youth adventure tourism and eco-tourism with that like to go on holiday as a group.
The Ministry has brought in a base standard for adventure tourism and eco-tourism by managing the tourism community, and eco-tourism hygiene, food preparation, toilets and local guides.
Sopheak said that eco-tourism will also create many job opportunities and provide much needed income to the community through local tourists that can flow directly to the community.
“We now have the eco-tourism policy, but we still preparing and processing the law. This is to ensure the management of the eco-tourism and eco-community will align to one standard,” he added.