With tourism being one of the main drivers of the Cambodian economy, the government and the private sector need to speed up their implementation of the “China-Ready” strategy which aims to attract 2 million Chinese tourists annually by 2020.
Speaking at the second national tourism forum dedicated to the China-Ready strategy, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said that both operators and the government need to adequately prepare for the planned surge of Chinese arrivals in order to reap potential economic benefits.
He added that Chinese tourists so far this year have taken the top spot for arrivals to the Kingdom, edging out Vietnam. During the first eight months of this year, there have been 742,586 Chinese tourist arrivals, a 44 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Cambodia received 3.5 million total international tourist arrivals during the first eight months of the year.
“Based on this growth, Cambodia needs to develop a well managed comprehensive tourism marketing strategy, as the whole world is trying to capture the Chinese tourism market,” he said.
He added that the Kingdom is on track to welcome 5.6 million visitors in 2017, and predicts that in 2020 there will be a total of 7 million visitors which will generate $5 billion in revenue and create an additional 1 million jobs.
“We have to speed up and build the capacity of our hospitality services, hold dedicated exhibitions for Chinese tourists and train Cambodians to be fluent in Chinese,” he said.
Chhay Sivlin, president of Cambodia Travel Agent Association, said the private sector was trying to follow the ministry’s guidelines which include hiring Chinese speakers, preparing materials in Chinese and getting accredited from the government as being China-Ready.
“Now we focus on the Tourism Ministry’s guidelines to target Chinese tourists,” she said. “The most important thing to attract them is building up human resource skills and training operators on how to hit their market goals.”
She added that another key thing Cambodian operators need to achieve is to build a better reputation when dealing with Chinese tourists.
Today, the ministry is expected to give out two more China-Ready stamps of approval to private sector firms through a memorandum of understanding.