CAMBODIA has applied for 450km of coastline, stretching from Koh Kong to Kep, to be recognised by an international organisation in a bid to increase visitor numbers, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has told the Post.
At a meeting held in Preah Sihanouk province late last week, the Minister said that the Kingdom has applied for membership to an organisation called the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches Club.
The club was established in Berlin in 1997 and has certified 30 beaches in 22 member countries so far.
Cambodia's application, which was made on April 30 and is backed by the private sector, has been made to support tourism and to provide an ongoing means of income to the local population.
“We hope Cambodia’s beach[es] will be officially recognised as a member of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches Club next year because our coastal area has protected natural resources which are a big attraction,” Thong Khon said.
Club membership “also has the potential to develop the national economy”, he added.
To become a member, a country must fulfill requirements, which include requiring its beach to have projects in place to protect natural resources, be an attractive natural area and have the potential for economic development.
“We will act vigorously to implement environmental protection in all coastal provinces to ensure our beach is a beautiful area for both local and international visitors,” added Environment Minister Mok Mareth.
Government officials met with provincial authorities and business owners in Sihanoukville on Thursday to draft a strategic plan to prevent coastal areas from being polluted.
Thong Khon said the Kingdom’s coastline could become the second-most important attraction for international tourists after Angkor Wat, if it achieved official Club recognition.
Representatives from the beach body are expected to visit Cambodia to examine and evaluate its coastline in November this year.
According to a Ministry of Tourism report, only 7.15 percent of last year's 2.16 million international tourists visited the Kingdom's beaches.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that if Cambodia’s coastline was recognised by the Club, the country would be able to increase tourist numbers by 50 percent over the next five years.
Officials applied for the award following encouragement from the Apsara Authority and UNESCO.