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Tourism not competitive

9 tourists bayon temple
Tourists walk through the grounds of Bayon Temple in Siem Reap province last week. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia ranks last in travel and tourism competitiveness among eight Southeast Asian countries, according to a recently published study by the World Economic Forum.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013, which excluded Laos and Myanmar, said Cambodia comes 106th out of 140 countries this year, compared to placing 109th in 2011.

While the number of international tourist arrivals in Cambodia is increasing, the sector is still lacking a regulatory framework, an effective business environment and infrastructure, as well as human, cultural and natural resources, the report said.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon told the Post yesterday that Cambodia can’t yet compete with the rest of the region because of its history.

“Our competitors have a lot of infrastructure and had no war,” he said, adding that it is difficult to compare the Southeast Asian countries.

“However, our government did a lot to develop the country. It is on the way to developing its infrastructure, and in the near future Cambodia will have more and more tourists coming,” he said.

The Post reported last month that the number of international tourists in Cambodia had increased 24.4 per cent from 2.88 million in 2011 to 3.58 million in 2012, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.

According to the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism co-chair Ho Vandy, Cambodia’s tourism sector still needs time but is in good shape.

“Day by day we see the development of infrastructure and entertainment,” he said.

“We’re trying to promote the Kingdom, especially to young visitors and to keep them returning,” he added.

Best in travel and tourism in Southeast Asia was Singapore, which ranked 10th in the world, the report said.

Malaysia was next, followed by Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Thailand ranked 43rd overall, a fall of two places since 2011, “demonstrating some resilience to the natural disasters and political unrest with which the country has been grappling”, the report said.

The Philippines was the most improved country among the Asia-Pacific nations.

The report’s data set includes survey data from the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey and quantitative data from publicly available sources, international organisations, institutions and experts.

According to its website, the World Economic Forum is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It was incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

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