CAMBODIA’S precious coastal areas would boost local and international visitor numbers, as well as attract still more private investment, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.
In May, the Kingdom’s beaches were officially recognised as a member of the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World.
Now Hun Sen, who was speaking at a celebration of the Kingdom’s admission to the club at the Independence Hotel in Sihanoukville, anticipates a jump in visitors to the region, thereby acting as a catalyst for Cambodia’s economic growth.
“Coastal areas play a very import-ant role, and they rank just behind Phnom Penh and cultural sites like Angkor Wat in terms of attracting investors and driving the national economy,” he said.
Hun Sen said there were 117 private investment projects worth US$10.7 billion taking place along the country’s 450-kilometre coastline, amounting to 42 per cent of all investments nationwide.
“We appeal to all private investors who want to invest in the area: do not destroy the environment, and protect and conserve our natural resources, our cultural heritage and history in our beaches,” he said.
To become a member of the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World, a country must fulfil specific requirements, including having projects in place that protect the country’s natural resources.
The beaches must also exemplify natural beauty and have the potential for economic development.
The club, established in Berlin in 1997, has certified 33 beaches in 27 member countries so far.
The number of international tourists visiting Sihanoukville increased by 7.5 per cent to 90,000 visitors during the first five months of 2011, compared with the same period last year.
Hun Sen said the country was aiming to double that number by the end of the year.
Galip Gur, president-elect of the club, yesterday praised Cambodia’s beaches, saying he expected them to draw the same kind of attention the prime minister had called for.
“Cambodia’s beaches have a lot of potential. I hope they will attract more and more international visitors to come here,” Gur said.
“As part of the membership, we are sharing our experience to help and develop Cambodia’s coastal areas and boost the tourism sector in the Kingdom.”
Kong Sangvar, managing director at Orchestra Travel and Tours in Phnom Penh, said he hoped the membership would help promote Cambodia as a top tourism destination.
“I hope that membership of the club offers the potential to develop our national economy,” he said.