The Council of Ministers on Monday approved the draft national policy on ecotourism. It will be sent to the national assembly this week before it is turned into law, said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.
Siphan said while Cambodia’s ecotourism sector is showing higher potential to attract tourists, the policy would help to protect and conserve the country’s natural area.
“The policy will develop the ecotourism and tourism community and is a mechanism to protect and conserve natural areas. The [draft] will be submitted to the national assembly this week in order to review for adoption,” he said.
He said the Kingdom’s ecotourism sector is a priority and the “green gold” that would help develop the economy.
Cambodia received 5.6 million international tourists last year and generated $3.6 billion or 13 per cent of its GDP. The sector created 620,000 jobs and thousands of indirect ones.
The UN World Tourism Organisation predicts that the number of eco-tourists will increase 20 per cent annually, said Siphan.
“The growth in tourism does not separate cultural and natural tourism, which are potential resources to attract tourists to Cambodia,” he said.
Siphan said the Ministry of Tourism is cooperating with relevant ministries to develop 56 sites with tourism communities and ecotourism potential that are located in 16 provinces.
Cambodia currently has 400 entertainment venues and 56 licensed tourism and ecotourism communities, according to ministry figures.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said having an ecotourism policy will be a key player in developing and protecting the natural community since Cambodia has a lot of natural areas with potential.
“Eco-communities will be key to boosting tourist arrivals in Cambodia, the quality of tourism products, and services,” Sivlin said.