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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man about town: 21 February 2014

Man about town: 21 February 2014

The lack of large convention and conference halls has cost Siem Reap dearly, and has been cited as the reason the planned Pacific Asia Travel Association’s annual travel mart has been moved to Phnom Penh.

On June 7 last year, TTR Weekly reported, “Pacific Asia Travel Association will host its annual travel mart in Siem Reap in September 2014, the first time a major trade show has been hosted in the World Heritage town.”

Man About contacted Halona Padiachy, then the manager of communication for PATA asking whether TTR Weekly’s information about Siem Reap being the venue was accurate.

She replied, “Thank you for your query. This information is correct. PATA has confirmed the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia as the host country for our annual PATA Travel Mart in 2014. We are currently in the very early stages of planning…”

But on Monday February 17, PATA posted a press release saying it “will hold the 37th PATA Travel Mart, September 17-19 at Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre, Phnom Penh.”

The press release added, “PATAmPower statistics show that in 2013 Cambodia’s visitor arrivals increased 8 per cent to over 3.7 million. Tourism accounts for about 16 per cent of Cambodia’s GDP, around US$2.5 billion per year.

“In 2014 the first-ever Responsible Travel Pavilion will be a feature at the Mart. The Pavilion will provide a business platform for PATA members and travel industry players who are committed to responsible and sustainable travel.

“’There is a palpable spirit of optimism in Cambodia,’ said PATA CEO, Martin Craigs. ‘I’m confident that spirit will be apparent on the PTM show floor in Phnom Penh. It will be the right time and place to do new business’.”

So what happened to Siem Reap? The new manager of communications for PATA, Paul Pruangkarn, put it quite simply, informing Man About,

“In answer to your question, PATA is holding the Travel Mart in Phnom Penh as there was not a space large enough in Siem Reap to accommodate the event.”


Incidentally, the June 7 2013 TTR Weekly article also reported that, “Cambodia is planning to start its own annual travel mart possibly as early as 2014 according to ministry of tourism officials.

“Ministry of Tourism, marketing and promotion office chief in charge of ASEAN markets, Prak Vuthy, who was attending the Thailand Travel Mart, said the ministry was studying options.

“He said the focus of a mart would concentrate on promoting just Cambodia to international trade visitors, unlike Thailand’s TTM and Vietnam’s ITE that seek to establish regional platforms as gateway events.”

The article also said the Cambodian government “has plans to develop an airport at Kampong Chnang which is about 60 km from Phnom Penh which could open as early as 2020 and be the new international airport for the capital.”

When is a travel and tour company not a travel and tour company? When it’s a DMC, or destination management company.

According to Wikipedia, destination management company is “a term for a professional services company possessing extensive local knowledge, expertise and resources, specialising in the design and implementation of events, activities, tours, transportation and program logistics.”

Newly opened DMC, A Touch of Asia, has opened in Phnom Penh, and according to TTG Asia “a second office in Siem Reap already on the way.”

TTG Asia reported the new company is founded by three travel professionals – general manager Steve Lidgey formerly of the UK, Sothy Math who “worked at another top DMC as a senior reservations manager,” and Hong Sok Heng who worked over a decade at Sofitel.



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