A new urban centre will be built in Siem Reap, with the project having recently been included in the province’s tourism master plan.
The project was proposed by Tourism Minister Thong Khon on Monday as a concept note during a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee.
This concept note has already been included in the master plan for the province, which is now being drafted and will be ready early next year.
According to Minister Khon, the new city will attract tourists to the province, which has seen a drop in tourism activity, with its landmark destination, the Angkor Archeological Complex, welcoming less international visitors during the first half of the year than during the same period in 2018.
The new city will be located 60 kilometres east of Siem Reap city, according to Mr Khon.
“To welcome more foreign tourists in the future, we will conduct a study on building a new city in Siem Reap,” said Mr Khon, adding that the proposed city will have its own international airport.
Chuk Chumno, director of the department of tourism product development, told Khmer Times yesterday that the project will help diversify the province’s tourism offer.
“The new city will be an additional tourism spot in the city, helping us diversify beyond Angkor Wat,” he said.
“The minister drafted the concept note, and technical experts working on Siem Reap’s tourism master plan will include it in the master plan.”
The master plan will be finished early next year, Mr Chumno noted.
A prominent point on the agenda at Monday’s meeting was addressing the recent drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting Angkor Archaeological Park, a Unesco-listed attraction and Cambodia’s most iconic destination.
According to figures from Angkor Enterprise, the Kingdom earned $55.7 million in revenue from the sale of tickets at the park in the first half of the year, a 9 percent decrease over the corresponding period in 2018.
During those six months, the number of tickets sold at the park saw an 8 percent decrease, with just over 1,244,000 foreign tourists buying passes.
To tackle the decline, members of the inter-ministerial committee outlined a short-term strategy for 2019-2020 under the slogan ‘Turning challenges into opportunities’.
According to the ministry, the strategy has multiple goals, including diversifying new tourism products, extending the stay of tourists, and redefining the province’s identity.
As part of the strategy, Tonle Sap Lake, Kulen Mountain, Siem Reap city and surrounding areas will be further developed as tourist destinations.
China continues to top the list of tourists by nationality in Siem Reap, with about 540,000 Chinese visiting the province in the first half of the year. China is followed by Korea and the US.