Cambodia and Laos have agreed to facilitate cross-border travel to boost tourism between the two countries.

The agreement came as Minister of Tourism Thong Khon met his Lao counterpart Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune on March 13 in the Lao capital Vientiane as part of his official three-day visit.

Kikeo said at the meeting that he had agreed with Khon to connect the main tourist destinations of the two nations and promote more Lao flights to Cambodia.

Separately, Khon and Suanesavanh Vignaket, Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism met for talks focusing mainly on how to boost the flow of tourists between the two nations and beyond. The two sides also looked into the possibility of holding the 2nd Cambodia-Laos Senior Officials’ Meeting on Tourism.

The tourism ministry said the two sides have seen the potential for new infrastructure as a catalyst for attracting tourists to the region.

“The two ministers agreed to urge senior tourism officials of the two countries to look into the possibility of facilitating cross-border travel. In particular, self-driving tourists passing through Cambodia using the expressway to Cambodia’s coasts and allowing Cambodian tourists to take a Lao high-speed train from Vientiane to other Lao attractions,” it said.

In addition, the meeting aimed to boost the flow of Chinese and other third-country tourists to the two nations through the use of the Lao high-speed train, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway and self-driving tourists crossing the border.

The Cambodian side said it is ready to facilitate the provision of special policies for Vientiane-Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville flights and may request other rights and special policies.

The two ministers also agreed to hold events such as the Cambodia-Laos cycling event and marathon and the food fair to celebrate the 67th anniversary of Cambodia-Laos diplomatic relations.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia Chapter, welcome the agreement, saying that not just Laos but Thailand and Vietnam should be included in these agreements since the sector is now encountering challenges.

“At this time, neighbouring countries can benefit each other and help one another in the tourist sector. However, the two countries should also try to make it easier for their own people to travel for the first time,” he said.

Khon led the delegation of tourism officials and the private sector to visit Laos for three days from March 12-15 to increase tourism cooperation.