Andrew Tay, a Singaporean who is the director at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh, is keen to teach Cambodians how to promote their country through tourism.
“Singaporean tourists always think about their safety, natural beauty and cleanliness,” he said.
And most Singaporeans, he says, are aware of Angkor Wat and consider any trip to Cambodia incomplete until they have seen the ancient temples in Siem Reap. It is the one thing that people around the world know about Cambodia, he added.
“You will not be considered as people who have visited Cambodia if you have not seen Angkor Wat,” he said.
Cambodian is now known as the “Kingdom of Wonder”, a slogan that was creatively and carefully selected for advertising the tourist destinations in this country. And Tay says there are many rich tourism resources here.
“Cambodia has a lot of idyllic things for tourists to see, including the way people live, the culture, the heritages sites and the scenery, so it is aptly named the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’,” he said.
“Cambodia is loaded with beautiful landscapes, such as creeks, rivers, huge lakes, mountain ranges and attractive beaches. These things are factors which win the tourists’ mind to keep them staying longer and searching for more in this country.”
He added that the key to getting more tourists to come and visit the country is “the country should put more effort into creating effective advertising through the world’s media, such as BBC, CNN, etc”.
“Then the budget for advertising has to be added too.”
As well as short but meaningful video clips which describe the beauty of Cambodia and its people, a number of main tourist destinations and resorts should be created so that tourists can enjoy these places and learn more about the country.
“For the Singaporean tourists, they’re always thinking about a place which is safe, beautiful and non-polluted as their priorities. We love peace and hygiene,” he said.
He said that most Singaporeans know Cambodia through their studies, especially the historical events and the visit of Singapore’s first president Lee Kuan Yew to Cambodia after he had an invitation from King Norodom Sihanouk.
Lee Kuan Yew became head of state in Singapore after his government declared the island to be a legal state in the mid 1960s.
“At that time, Singaporean people called this beautiful Phnom Penh City the ‘Paris’ in the East,” he said. “Now Singapore and Cambodia are ASEAN member states and Singapore’s education system has sent thousands of Singaporean students to do field trips in order to study about Cambodia’s people, traditions and culture.”
As an expert in the hotel field for many years, he said “hotels are a main factor for absorbing tourists”.
“Therefore, hotels here have to be of high standards both outside the building and inside the rooms and especially the service, including food, and well-trained staff,” he said.
“Buildings show a distinctive characteristic of a nation’s architecture, so the national identity will be hidden behind it. Cambodia has a lot of ancient culture which we can transform to be modernised. “For example, we can see Khmer-style in the Himawari Hotel building, while inside the rooms there is a combination of ancient and modern Cambodian culture which brings out the various beauty of this country.
“The company, architects and I have already studied these subjects and it is time for us to enhance the room decorations in order to make them more luxurious. The project was studied and we are ready to carry out this project.”
A new project which he has created is a trip on a modern cruiser along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and the Tonle Sap lake.
“We see the potential of beautiful scenery, freshness of the river environment which is decorated with the urbanised buildings, villages and floating houses of the people whose livings are connected to the agriculture and fishing.
“The action and scenery can contribute to an incredible trip and a relaxing one for tourists in the future,” he said.