Vietnam-Cambodia tourism cooperation has made significant achievements, bringing important socio-economic benefits to each country. The Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh writes that it is high time that Hanoi and Phnom Penh boost this cooperation and push it to a higher level.
In recent years, Vietnam and Cambodia’s tourism industry have become areas attracting a lot of investment and human resources. This in turn has contributed to the economic sectors of both countries.
For Cambodia, tourism has brought a significant profit to the country, which contributes more than 10 percent to the national income. According to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, from January to September 2018, Cambodia welcomed 4.3 million visitors, a rise of 11.8 percent compared with the same period last year.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese social income from the sector has increased by 25 percent per year, contributing to improved changes in urban and rural areas.
Vietnam’s tourism industry has continued to witness impressive growth in 2018 with the arrival of more than 15 million foreign tourists. Total revenue from tourist services is expected to reach more than VND 600 trillion (about $26.3 billion).
Along with the rapid development in tourism, Vietnam and Cambodia have adopted strategies, combining internal forces with international links to promote the roles and benefits of a smoke-free industry.
The trend of integration and development of Vietnam and Cambodia has created favorable conditions for both countries to open their doors and enhance the exchange of tourists between the two sides. In fact, Vietnam-Cambodia tourism cooperation has made significant achievements, bringing important socio-economic benefits to each country.
The number of Cambodian tourists to Vietnam and vice versa sees a continuous increase, thanks to road travel. In addition, the two countries are interested to cooperate with each other to promote national tourism, tourism products, as well as create favourable conditions to expand tourism exchanges and development.
The question now is: Should Hanoi and Phnom Penh boost cooperation in tourism to push it to a higher level?
There are three reasons why this should happen.
Firstly, Phnom Penh and Hanoi are neighbouring countries with a long-standing historical relationship and strong people-to-people ties. Moreover, cultural, social and ethnic similarities are also a crucial foundation for the two countries to expand cooperation in many fields, including tourism cooperation. Most importantly, the geographical proximity between both countries has laid the foundation for bilateral cooperation in tourism, with the ease of travel.
Secondly, Cambodia and Vietnam are known as countries with many attractive natural and cultural heritages, with both having Unesco cultural heritage sites. Cambodia, with a history of more than two thousand years, is famous for its beautiful and world-admired Angkor temples. Currently, there are about 60 cultural and historical sites along with more than 1,000 temples, 16 historical monuments, 41 artificial tourist sites and hundreds of state-recognized temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia. They are really precious as national heritage possessions.
Vietnam, on the other hand, has world-class cultural heritages such as the Hue Citadel, Hoi An Ancient Town, and My Son Sanctuary. Also, Vietnam has unique natural areas like Ha Long Bay which has been voted as one of the seven new natural wonders of the world. The available tourism potentials and geographical proximity of the two countries creates great opportunities for the promotion of bilateral tourism cooperation.
Last but not least, amid international integration, both Cambodia and Vietnam can focus on the efficiency and benefits brought upon by the tourism industry.
According to So Mara, secretary at the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia highly appreciates the positive cooperation in tourism between the Kingdom and Vietnam, as well as the bilateral efforts in promoting the “Two Countries, One Destination” joint tourism plan. The two neighboring nations have organised numerous tourism cooperation programmes such as tourism conferences, seminar, fairs, exhibitions and forums to promote tourism products and enhance connection.
Also, both sides have conducted many meetings at different levels to strengthen mutual relationship and understanding and to sign numerous important cooperation agreements.
But there are still some obstacles in Vietnam-Cambodia tourism cooperation. Though the number of tourists crossing the common border has increased, compared to other countries in the region the data is limited and bilateral tourism cooperation has not met the set requirements.
Therefore, Phnom Penh and Hanoi should facilitate conditions to promote the advantages of this special industry, and closely link and coordinate with countries in the region and the world to strengthen the smoke-free industry. Additionally both Cambodia and Vietnam should sign further agreements on tourism cooperation to build stronger bilateral relations.