Cambodia is eyeing two major tourism-related events set for the coastal Preah Sihanouk province next month to gain recognition amongst regional and global leaders as a safe travel destination with limited Covid-19-associated risks, a year on after the government moved to allow the full resumption of socio-economic activity.
To this end, a November 7 preparatory meeting was held at Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall for the December 9-11 9th Sea Festival – the first since 2019, before Covid-19 – and the World-Bays Club’s 2022 World Congress to be held from December 9-14 themed “Bays of Peace, Bays of Hope”, the Ministry of Tourism noted in a statement.
Speaking at the meeting, tourism minister Thong Khon suggested that the Sea Festival would be a good opportunity for Cambodia to show off its successes in the Covid-19 fight and socio-economic recovery efforts, as well as to lure in more foreign tourists and investors, following the years-long pandemic-linked tourism slump, according to the statement.
The minister also highlighted the “One Village, One Product” movement as an important priority for the festival, calling for as many displays of marketable local products as possible.
He put forward that the two events could be used to show the government’s achievements in the areas of administration, the preservation of peace, infrastructure and other developments.
He added that the lead-up to the events could be used to promote the meaning and value of the sea festival, and to brief the general population on the benefits of individual commitments to keeping themselves and the environment clean.
Khon issued a general call to ensure sufficient accommodations options and other tourism-related services for the expected influx of visitors to Preah Sihanouk, as well as for the proper management of service fees and waste disposal in commercial and public spaces, according to the statement.
The statement also cited provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun at the meeting as calling for greater attention to matters of littering, health, safety, order and hygiene, and cautioning against large crowds – likely an allusion to the fatal October 29 crowd surge in the Seoul neighbourhood of Itaewon that has since led to the death of at least 156 people, mostly young adults.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin believes that the Sea Festival will give a leg-up to tourism recovery in the Kingdom, noting that the event will be attended by many international guests and widely publicised around the world.
She said participants will be witness to the rapid growth experienced by Preah Sihanouk, as evinced by an ever-growing phalanx of high-rises and increasingly complex road networks and infrastructure.
“This event is a great source of pride for Cambodia,” Sivlin told The Post.
The ministry says the Sea Festival will include 350 booths in a variety of areas, such as tourism and development thereof, Industry 4.0, and Khmer and foreign cuisine, manned by relevant ministries and institutions, World-Bays Club members, embassies and sponsors.
The festival will also feature Cambodian art performances as well as artists from countries such as Indonesia, India, Thailand and Vietnam, along with 3km and 5km marathons, 20km and 40km cycling challenges, Khmer boxing, table football, basketball and sailing.
The ministry tallied a total of 1,265,772 foreign visitors to the Kingdom from January to September, up 861.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, and estimated that the full-year total would end up in the 1.8-to-two million range.