The Tourism Ministry yesterday introduced the One Tourist, One Tree Campaign, a venture designed to attract tourists to Cambodia and develop the urban centres as “green cities”. Promoted by the government, this new strategy aims to make the tourism sector sustainable.
Speaking of the One Tourist, One Tree Campaign, to be launched on February 27, Thong Khon, minister of tourism, said the campaign would attract more tourists.
“This campaign is a mechanism for promoting green tourism in Cambodia effectively, because if one tourist plants one tree, he will promote Cambodia to his family, friends and, furthermore, he will revisit Cambodia in the future,” he said.
Cambodia received more than 3.5 million international tourists in 2012, a 20 per cent increase from 2011.
Revenue generated by the tourism sector was calculated at over $2 billion at the end of 2012. According to forecasts, four million international tourists will visit in 2013, Thong said.
Eight million domestic tourists visited sites in the country in 2012, and, Thong said, besides making a contribution to mitigate climate change and prevent natural disasters, the campaign will increase the number of local tourists travelling within the country as they visit the trees they planted.
“The campaign will [also] help contribute to the United Nations’ environmental program, ‘The Billion Tree Campaign’,” he said.
According to the UN, Cambodia‘s overall rate of forest loss stands at nearly 75 per cent since the end of the 1990s. Cambodia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.
Neb Samuth, secretary general of the National Committee for Clean City Assesment, said surveys conducted among 108 foreign tourists found that 84 per cent supported this campaign, 11 per cent didn’t and five per cent were unsure.
Thong Khon said there are only two sites already implementing the planting activities, one in Siem Reap, implemented by the APSARA National Authority, and one in Kratie provice by the eco-tourism Koh Trong community.
Bun Ban, chief of Koh Trong Community Based Ecotourism, said the community was established in May 2008 and implemented the project a year later. So far, he said, the community, along with tourists’ support, had planted over 4,600 trees on 3.5 hectares of land.
He said French nationals were the foreign visitors who planted the most.
Each tourist needs to pay $5 for a tree for people in the community to look after and update them with information of its growth.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]