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Government to boost new tourism development zones

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
A view of the Tonle Sap, which the government wants to develop more as a tourist zone. KT/Pann Rachana

The government is speeding up the tourism development plan for the country’s west, northwest provinces and around the Tonle Sap River, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The ministry said a discussion about a tourism road map book in the region was made during a meeting on Tuesday in Banteay Meanchey province with participants from all levels of relevant parties.

Nine provinces in the country’s west and northwest, including Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin and the provinces around Tonle Sap river (Kampong Thom, Seim Reap, Battambang, Pousat and Kampong Chnang).

“This guide book will boost the provinces of Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey to develop new potential for tourism with the concepts of white gold [agriculture-based tourism] and green gold [eco-tourism],” the Ministry said.

Fisheries, bird conservation areas, floating villages and connected road infrastructures around make it most attractive for the provinces around Tonle Sap.

The road map book will help to strengthen and widen cooperation and relations among the provinces in the west, northwest and around Tonle Sap to gain more potential in attracting tourists, according to the ministry.

Top Sopheak, the ministry’s spokesman, said that a draft of the guide book was already finished but still needed the approval the minister.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, welcomed the plan, saying that the region will provide great potential for tourism investment as well.

“We have the great Tonle Sap river which has heritage value not only food security with its tourism sites,” he said, adding that with the mixed resources including mountains, water and cultural sites, the region will become the country’s new eco and cultural tourism destination.

“So this is the new attraction place if the government makes a good plan because it also attracts more people to invest in that region’s tourism,” she said.

Sivlin said that currently Cambodia’s tourism sector has a lack of infrastructure connections and services are still limited.

“Yes, it is part of the country’s tourism diversification because we have difference attractions in each province and we have unique products but we have left it undeveloped so we need to create more tourism destinations to receive more tourists and provide quality services,” she said.

The ministry’s planning department for tourism development is now cooperating with other relevant departments to research and collect data for the tourism development road map for the region.

“It is important to contribute to the conservation of culture, the historical nature and protect against the Kingdom’s climate change,” the ministry said. “The tourism development road map will provide new opportunities and prosperity for the country’s tourism sector that will be a benefit for tourists and investors.”

Beaches, Islands and Angkor Wat are the Kingdom’s main tourism hub currently but the government is diversifying into more eco-tourism.

Cambodia welcomed 6.61 million international tourists in 2019. The data shows that local tourists amounted to 11.3 million while Cambodians travelling outbound numbered 2.04 million, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s figures.

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