Cambodia is to take advantage of the Chengdu Initiative on Tourism Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as it can help promote sustainable tourism.
The initiative was approved by the World Tourism Organisation of the United Nations (UNWTO) during the body’s 22nd General Assembly in Chengdu, China.
The Chengdu Initiative for Belt and Road Tourism Cooperation will strengthen tourism cooperation through policy coordination, harmonisation of procedures, joint media promotion, personnel exchanges as well as joint security risk responses.
Cambodia’s Tourism Minister Thong Khon said that through the initiative the tourism sector in Cambodia and all the BRI’s member states will be improved rapidly.
He said the development of infrastructure such as roads, rail, bridges, expressways and airports will be improved as they will link to tourism destinations, “promote ecotourism, cultural tourism and coastal tourism”.
“The Chengdu Initiative on Tourism Cooperation will attract new investment in new tourism products, capacity building and joint tourism promotion,” Mr Khon said.
He said that to have sustainable and efficient tourism development, Cambodia last year had released a white paper called China Ready to attract Chinese tourists and an accreditation system to manage services in the tourism sector.
He added that having a sustainable environment as well as social responsibility are important factors and all of the BRI’s member states must engage in “green living, green building and green transportation to attract tourists and respond to help reduce climate change”.
Mr Khon said that connectivity must be low-cost to help facilitate travelling, particularly visa policies, insurance, transportation and security.
The Belt and Road Initiative was endorsed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and is aimed at benefiting all participants by promoting unimpeded trade, financial integration, infrastructure connectivity and closer people-to-people exchanges.
Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation, said he welcomes the BRI’s tourism cooperation as China is going to be the biggest tourism market in the world. He said that by 2020, at least 200 million Chinese tourists will be outbound and they will spend up to $420 billion.
“All the BRI’s member states must push connectivity through building infrastructure, facilitating travel and preparing a common standard for tourism products and services while strengthening security,” Mr Rifai said.
Mr Khon said that last year, Cambodia had established the China Ready Center to cater to about two million Chinese tourists expected to visit the country per year by 2020, as well as to improve the skills of local tourist operators working with Chinese clients.
From January to June, tourist arrivals from China rose about 40 percent, up to 529,967 to put it at the top of the list, according to a report from the Ministry of Tourism.