Cambodia, with its unique mixture of culture and nature. Tourism has become one of the three most important contributors to the Kingdom’s economy according to Cheam Yeap, Chairman of the Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit of the National Assembly.The Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with many other institutions, is working hard to maintain that situation.
High-quality advertising is the key to luring more foreign visitors to Cambodia, which is why the Ministry of Tourism is trying to boost advertising through mass media.
Statistics show the number of international tourists increased by 14 per cent in the first six months of this year. This is a good omen for the nation’s economy. Tat Visoth Mony, chief of the International Tourist Information Administrative Office’s marketing and promotions department, says the ministry’s focus on promotional campaigns has been highly successful.
“All our promotional material refers to Cambodia’s history and contains pictures of our heritage temples, our beaches, our lifestyle, our scenery, our culture and our resorts to attract tourists’ attention,” he says.
Every year, Cambodia spends around $2 million on advertising to attract tourists. But, because ofbudget constraints, this advertising has not been 100 per cent effective.
“If we want to promote Cambodia properly, we have to spend a lot of money,” Tat Visoth Mony says.
“We still lack the budget to run tourism campaigns effectively.”
The Cambodian government has adopted a seven-pronged strategy to increase the number of international tourists. It includes an advertising boost; easier entry to the Kingdom (with a free visa, if appropriate); reducing the cost of visiting; creation of new tourism products; lifting the quality of tourism products; encouraging local movement of tourists; and an emphasis on tourists’ security and safety.
Cheam Yeap says the government is paying a lot of attention to the tourism sector and is trying to paint the best possible picture of Cambodia.
“We tell visitors about our eco-tourism, our historic resorts and our cultural activities,” he says.
“The tourism sector is becoming better and better.”
Cheam Yeap adds that the government gives priority to international tourism companies that co-operate with Ministry of Tourism and to promoting the tourism sector by producing handbooks and encouraging the development of human resources.
Cheam Yeap says the government closely monitors tourism statistics. If its approach is not effective, it will change its focus, he says.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, says Cambodia cannot earn much profit from the tourism sector while the government allows foreigners to control most of it.
He says Cambodia has to spend more on advertising and promotion of the tourism sector, and make it broader and more effective.
In addition, the government has to encourage Cambodian companies to invest more in the tourism sector, Yim Sovann says.
Kong Chandararoth, president of the Cambodian Institute of Economic Study and Development, says tourism advertising is becoming more and more sophisticated because overseas tourists want to see what they are paying for.
“Public-relations campaigns in other countries is also the best advertising strategy, because if we represent our tourism sector to them, we will get more tourists,” he says.