Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced that this year will be the year of cultural and tourism exchange between Cambodia and China.
Mr Hun Sen also noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“After celebrating the 60th anniversary of Cambodia and China relations, we also can declare that the year 2019 will be the year of tourism exchange between Cambodia and China,” Mr Hun Sen said during a groundbreaking ceremony for the third ring road in Phnom Penh.
He added that tourism exchange between Cambodia and China will be one of the main engines to power Cambodia’s economic growth.
“Last year, Cambodia received 6.2 million international travellers, most of whom were Chinese tourists,” Mr Hun Sen said.
China has become the largest source of foreign direct investment and tourists to Cambodia. For tourism, Cambodia received 1.6 million Chinese visitors last year compared with 1.4 million in 2017.
“Our target is to attract more Chinese tourists of up to three million within the next few years,” Mr Hun Sen said. “More and more direct flights connecting China and Cambodia are increasing year by year.”
He underlined that Chinese tourists have been targeted by every country across the world, noting that last year Thailand targeted having ten million Chinese visitors.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, said yesterday that the target of three million Chinese tourists within the next few years will be possible if Cambodia doesn’t have any political, economic or diplomatic crisis.
“During the last few years, huge numbers of Chinese tourists flocked to Cambodia which has benefited the country’s economic growth as well as created jobs for Cambodian people,” he said. “This is the result of Cambodia’s political and economic stability.”
Mr Hun Sen also used the ceremony to announce that he will be travelling to China for a three-day official visit this weekend, where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss bilateral ties and work to strengthen the relationship between both countries.
“I would like to inform all Cambodian people throughout the country that on Sunday I will be leaving for Beijing, China for an official visit from January 20 to 23,” he said.
Several issues especially economic development, trade, investment and tourism will be discussed during his visit.
“These issues will be the main topics that will be discussed between me and President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang as well as other Chinese government leaders,” Mr Hun Sen said.
He said that several agreements related to economic development, trade, investment and tourism are expected to be signed during his visit to China.
Both Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann and Wei Hu, second secretary of the Chinese embassy to Cambodia, couldn’t be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.
To Cambodia, China is a significant trading partner and a driving force behind the Kingdom’s development. From 1994 to 2016, China contributed almost $15 billion towards Cambodia’s development.
China-Cambodia relations are seeing more opportunities for greater development and progress. In 2017 bilateral trade between both nations reached nearly $6 billion, an increase of 22 percent compared with 2016.
Since 1994, Chinese investors have flocked to Cambodia to invest in various areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, textile industry, hydropower, tourism and services.
Cambodia exports milled rice, cassava, nuts, semi-processed palm oil and rubber, while China ships cars, motorcycles, construction materials, textiles and fertilisers to the Kingdom.