A three-day trade and tourism conference aimed at promoting Indonesian-made products in Phnom Penh ended yesterday and although the conference is hoped to boost bilateral trade, an Indonesian diplomat said direct flights would be needed to facilitate the flow of business between the two countries.
Speaking at the closing of the 10th annual Indonesian Trade and Tourism Promotion (ITTP) conference, Pitono Purnomo, Indonesia’s ambassador to Cambodia, said that the annual trade-promotion event has helped increase bilateral trade every year.
However, Pitono highlighted the necessity of pushing for direct flights between Indonesia and Cambodia, adding that state-owned Garuda Indonesia airline could eventually launch the service.
“I believe in the long run, in the future, that would be a good prospect,” he said. “I am encouraging Garuda to open direct flights and hopefully they are considering that.”
Pitono admitted that there are challenges in lobbying the airline to operate a direct flight because the only 5,000 Cambodian tourists visit Indonesia annually, while nearly 50,000 Indonesians visited Cambodia last year.
“The airline company could start with one or three flights a week,” he suggested, adding, “There is no need for a daily flight.”
Ho Vandy, deputy secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said that official talks for establishing a direct flight began in 2009, although there is little to show for the effort.
However, he added as trade and economic ties deepen with Southeast Asia’s largest country, he hopes the Indonesian ambassador will continue to push for a flight to benefit the Cambodian economy.
“A direct flight will help to bring in more Indonesian tourists to our country,” he said. “At first, it would help to boost the tourism sector and later it would enlarge trade activity and increase investment into Cambodia,” he said.
According to Cambodian tourism statistics, Indonesian tourists to Cambodia reached 23,266 visitors in first six months this year, an increase of 17 percent compared to the same time last year.
Meanwhile, according to statistics from Indonesian government, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $450 million in 2015, a slight uptick from $434 million a year earlier.
The three-day ITTP consisted of 65 booths with 22 companies from Indonesia and 39 Indonesian companies already based in Cambodia. Potential products for import into Cambodia included automotive components, furniture and construction materials.