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Cambodia to target Mideast for tourism

Cambodia to target Mideast for tourism

A NEW government strategy hopes to make Cambodia a target destination for more Middle Eastern travellers, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon told the Post.

"We want to attract as many tourists from the Middle East as possible," Thong Khon said Sunday.

The move comes amid efforts by Prime Minister Hun Sen to strengthen ties between Cambodia and the Gulf nations.

The government last month signed a direct-flight agreement with Qatar, Thong Khon said, adding that a similar agreement with Kuwait is expected soon.

In April, the Qatari prime minister announced a US$200 million investment in Cambodia's agriculture sector, while Kuwait last month pledged $546 million in soft loans to upgrade irrigation systems and roads throughout the Kingdom.

Hun Sen is expected to pay a state visit to the Middle East in January next year, with stops in Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Cambodia has more than 300,000 ethnic Muslim Cham residents. Cham communities are currently marketed to Muslim tourists, said Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents.

"Cambodia has a Muslim Centre and other sites of interest, and several restaurants serve halal [religiously permissible] food," said Zakaryya Adam, secretary of state for the Ministry of Culture and Religion.

He said the Phnom Penh airport and several hotels in the capital and Siem Reap are also equipped with Muslim prayer rooms.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HOR HAB

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