A tourism development agreement was signed last week between Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism and China’s Shanghai Spring International Travel Service Group to boost the influx of Chinese tourists to the Kingdom.
In announcing the agreement on Saturday, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said: “The memorandum of understanding mainly focuses on building cooperation and strategic partnership between the Tourism Ministry and the company to promote more flights from different regions of China directly to Cambodia.”
“The agreement also covers human resource training for tourist guides, dissemination of Cambodia’s tourism products as well as bringing more tourists from China,” added Mr. Khon.
The signing of the agreement, which came after the visit of China’s President Xi Jinping, was also witnessed by Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo.
Wang Zheng Hua, chairman of Shanghai Spring International Travel Service Group, said the agreement was another key step to attract more Chinese tourists to Cambodia.
“I am ready to cooperate with Cambodia’s government to promote sustainable tourism and help Cambodia to become a high-level tourism destination for international visitors,” said Mr. Wang.
Mr.Sok An said that an estimated 100 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas a year.
“Our neighbor Thailand receives 20 million Chinese tourists a year. So, targeting two million Chinese tourists to visit Cambodia by 2020 is quite reasonable,” said Mr. Sok An.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry also announced on Saturday that it was ready to accredit tour operators with the China Ready Center to cater to these two million Chinese tourists.
“Tourism operators can now apply to the ministry for the quality of their services to be assessed based on the criteria set out in the Ministry of Tourism’s China Ready Center,” read the ministry’s announcement.
According to the announcement, tourism operators will be awarded certificates if they pass the assessment and they would also be given stickers bearing the words “China Ready and Accredited.” The stickers would be valid for a year, said the ministry.
“This center will facilitate research on the requirements and demands of Chinese tourists as well as strengthen the Chinese language and cultural skills of Cambodian tourist operators,” Mr. Khon told Khmer Times earlier.
Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged last week that Cambodia still faced a lack of tour guides who were fluent in Chinese.
“For Chinese food here, it is okay. What is most difficult [for Chinese tourists] is the lack of Chinese-speaking Cambodian tour guides,” said Mr. Hun Sen.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia needs at least 8,000 skilled tour guides to serve the tourism sector as the number of foreign tourist arrivals increase year-on-year.