The Ministry of Environment on October 3 released a prakas on the implementation of guidelines for micro-tourism development projects linked to protected areas and biodiversity conservation corridors.

After the launch, Khin Meng Kheang, director of the ecotourism department under the ministry’s General Department of Local Communities, told The Post that the guidelines were focused on the private sector; specifically companies which proposed to invest in small scale tourism enterprises, such as camping, bungalows or other attractions.

He said the guidelines would assist the owners of new projects across four stages – their application, their evaluation, completion of the procedures required and finally the implementation of their project.

“Their purpose is to ensure that small-scale tourism projects are effective, efficient and contribute to building the local economy. Most importantly, they ensure the sustainability of conservation work,” he said.

Siramoni, deputy head of the general department, said the government has given permission in principle for the ministry to make decisions on investment proposals which cover no more than 10ha of protected land.

He said that from July 2017 to September of this year, 307 small-scale projects on a total area of 2,670ha were established.

“These guidelines are something we need to review together. Should any of the points need revision, we must consult with the ministry,” he said.

Rath Virak, ministry secretary of state, said the ministry is responsible for 73 natural protected areas and 3 biodiversity corridors, equivalent to 41 per cent of the land area of Cambodia. Many of these areas have strong potential for eco-tourism, and could contribute to the promotion of job creation, boost the local economy and aid in the protection and conservation of natural resources.

“Through past studies of its protected areas, Cambodia is aware of its potential to attract national and international tourists due to their beautiful natural landscapes, fresh air and biodiversity. They feature a variety of forests and wildlife, birds of all kinds and beautiful waterfalls,” he said.

World Bank representative to Cambodia Salimata Follea said conserving and managing natural resources is important. In order to implement them effectively and enhance the connection between tourism and nature, policies and guidelines must ensure a balance between the sustainability of natural resources and economic development.

“The ministry’s ongoing efforts to improve protected areas and support local communities are important and desirable activities. We appreciate the release of these new guidelines,” she said.