The Ministry of Tourism is preparing a draft law for eco-tourism with the hope that it will keep Cambodia’s tourism industry competitive while protecting the Kingdom’s natural resources and promoting conservation efforts.
According to a half-year report released by the ministry yesterday, the draft law is still in the early development stage of technical discussions. The ministry is collaborating with France’s University of Toulouse to develop the legislation, with additional support provided by Acting For Life, an NGO that specialises in sustainable tourism initiatives.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon told a tourism forum yesterday that promoting eco-tourism would help diversify options for travellers. He added that the number of tourists visiting Cambodia in search of eco-tourism destinations was increasing nearly 20 per cent a year
“Eco-tourism is a new tool to attract foreign tourists and it is a trend that should be focused on to develop our tourism industry,” he said. “Eco-tourism can benefit local people directly and play an efficient role in reducing poverty.”
According the ministry’s report, the draft law on eco-tourism would identify the necessary criteria to govern eco-tourism and support local community development.
Neav Neary Panhchak Pisey, general manager of All Dreams Cambodia, which provides eco-tourism packages to rural communities, said she supports a law on eco-tourism as it would help diversify the industry away from being solely dependent on the Kingdom’s heritage sites.
“[Cambodia’s] infrastructure is getting better and this helps tourists access eco-tourism destinations,” she said. “It is truly a good time to develop the sector as it is good for the environment and provides a lot of employment benefits for locals.”