As the tourism sector grows in Cambodia, the onus has been on transportation services to provide facilites to meet the ever rising expectations of arriving tourists. Also, the ASEAN Economic Community is expected to provide a push to tourist arrival making the avaialbility of high-quality services even more urgent.
The Post’s Sorn Sarath sat down with Yuy Vibol, manager at bus service Giant Ibis Transport, to discuss how standards can be increased, the firm’s future plans and if services are ready to cope with an increase in tourist arrivals.
How has Giant Ibis progressed since its launch in 2012?
The group was established in 2011 and we started operations in 2012 with only one line from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. But a year after that we added another two lines – Phnom Penh to Kampot and Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. The company decided to operate these three lines in the first stage because they attract a lot of tourists who come to Cambodia, and we saw that we were receiving a lot of passengers on these routes. We now have buses travelling to Vietnam and in two or three months we will launch buses to Thailand.
What are your views on the passenger transport market in Cambodia?
The passenger transport service in Cambodia is still limited because we do not have many companies providing high-quality services. But with the recently-started ASEAN economic integration we have readied our business with quality services to welcome tourists to Cambodia.
What do you think about competition in the market place as it grows?
For Giant Ibis, we are not that worried about the competition because we got into this market focusing on service quality. So the company is prepared and implementing all our action plans to make our service better. But we do face a few problems, such as dealing with other motorists who do not follow the law, as well as training our own drivers to take responsibility for the passengers they are driving. However, the more operators we have in the market, the better we can improve the sector and customers will have more choices.
Why did you choose to operate to Vietnam before Thailand?
We did it this way because crossing the border between Cambodia and Vietnam is easier than crossing into Thailand. But as I stated already, we will start bus services to Thailand to take advantage of the ASEAN integration.
What benefits do you expect to get from the ASEAN integration?
It will increase interest in people to travel throughout the region because travelling across countries should become easier. When we have an increase in the flow of people, we will be able to benefit from that. They will road transport services like ours to travel from one province to the other and that will be to our advantage.
The number of tourist arrivals has been growing in Cambodia over the last few years. How is this benefiting road transport services?
Transport services are the backbone of the tourism sector. If we have attractive destinations and beautiful coastlines but no quality services to get there, tourists will not be happy travelling in Cambodia. On the flip side, when tourism grows it will also push transport services to grow as well and this will be a win-win for everyone.
What are the challenges you see for bus services?
We would like to have one big bus station in Phnom Penh, that is conveniently located and will give tourists a chance to go there and pick the service of their choice. Bus services are currently spread across the city, which limits the options of tourists to go to one spot and choose the best service, and it also creates traffic problems for the city.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity