The government continues to closely study Battambang province to find ways to develop it as a new heritage tourist destination, with plans to mark potential areas nearby as tourism sites.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said that the project was being conducted in collaboration with Hungary to entice both local and international tourists – especially tourists from Hungary and other countries in the European Union.
“The ministry also plans to work with Singapore to develop tourism destinations in the outlying areas such as Phnom Kulen, Chong Khneas, Prek Toal and Tonle Sap,” Mr. Khon said, referring to Kulen Mountain and the floating villages of Chong Khneas and Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province.
“In order to get tourists to stay longer and spend more in Cambodia, the Cambodian government has also provided visas for one to three years for visitors from South Korea, Japan and China as well,” he added.
“The ministry has also devised plans to develop the tourism sector, including an action plan that focuses on the development of tour packages and infrastructure.”
Mr. Khon said the plan with Hungary to develop Battambang province involves the creation of tourist accommodation, improvements in transport and better security for travelers, and better enforcement mechanisms to ensure tourists are not cheated.
In 2016, Cambodia received five million international visitors, up five percent over the previous year. It brought $3 billion in income to the nation, equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product and directly created about 620,000 jobs, equivalent to 13 percent of the total workforce, as well as more indirect jobs, according to a report from the Ministry of Tourism.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the National Tourism Federation of Cambodia, welcomed Hungary’s assistance to help develop Battambang province.
“This is a dream come true for the people in the province. It will certainly make Battambang more attractive and a must-see place for tourists after they visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap,” he said, adding that Battambang City was becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination for both locals and foreigners.
“Previously, there were four or five hotels in Battambang City. Now, there are close to 40 hotels and guesthouses. With such development, it generates more income for people because visitors pay, stay and eat.”
Battambang province is located in the far northwest of Cambodia. The northern and southern extremes of the province’s western boundaries form part of the international border with Thailand.