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All eyes are on tourism sector

This is a very big event for our country ... we want to show the world that Cambodia has plenty of potential

CAMBODIA will be at centre stage this the weekend, as the ASEAN Tourism Forum kicks off tomorrow in Phnom Penh.

Ministers of tourism from the ten ASEAN nations together with numerous key sector players are expected to attend the January 15 to 21 forum, which aims to strengthen the regional bloc’s tourism efforts.
“This is a very big event for our country,” said Ministry of Tourism secretary of state So Mara.

“We want to show the world that Cambodia has plenty of potential and is very powerful, in order to succeed in the tourism sector.”

The ATF – which is held annually and is in its 30th year – aims to promote ASEAN as a tourism destination, as well as improve links between the members, he said.

Along with the ministers, counterparts from countries such as China, Japan, Korea and India are expected to be in attendance.

Officials view Cambodia’s tourist industry, which saw 16 percent growth in terms of visitor numbers in 2010, as one of the four pillars of the Cambodian economy.

“If we talk about tourism, it plays a very important role [economically] because it can create more jobs for people in the ASEAN region,” said So Mara.

He added demand for travel to ASEAN would continue to grow, a fact showcased by the increased levels of interest buyers of tourism products were showing ahead of the ATF.

Cambodian Association of Travel Agents president Ang Kim Eang said the ATF was a chance to strengthen cooperation throughout the nations which make up ASEAN, as well an opportunity to increase awareness of the region as a highly competitive destination.

“It is very important to promote ASEAN tourism together, as a region,” he said.

One goal for the forum was to encourage visitors to one country to travel throughout the bloc, he said.

A series of events and meetings are scheduled for the capital-based forum and will be held at the Prime Minister’s office, the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre, Nagaworld Hotel, Raffles le Royal Hotel and Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra.

All ten tourism ministers are set to meet during high-level talks Monday.  

The three day Travel Exchange, or trade fair portion of the forum, is slated to begin Wednesday on Diamond Island.

Some 3,000 buyers and sellers are expected to be in attendance.

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