With the number of international tourists expected to visit Cambodia forecast to grow to 7.5 million people by 2030, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said the Kingdom’s rich diversity of natural and cultural resources along the coast and on its islands remain its competitive advantage in developing the tourism sector.

Speaking at the opening of the 8th Sea Festival in Kampot province on Saturday, Khon credited the government’s “sustainable coastal development policy” for attracting millions of tourists to Cambodia each year.

He said the Kingdom’s coastal areas were predicted to receive 1.3 million international visitors and 3.4 million local ones by the end of the year.

Coastal areas, he said, will receive 1.7 million international and 3.5 million local tourists by the end of next year. By 2030, the number is expected to balloon by 10 per cent to 7.5 million international tourists and increase five per cent to 5.5 million local ones.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia’s tourism sector is no longer solely dependent on visitors to temple areas as the government had worked hard to diversify tourist destinations for guests.

Hun Sen stressed that for the gains to continue, coastal areas must be well-managed and pristine, citing sewage, landfills, deforestation of mangrove trees and land encroachment as threats.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin told The Post that Cambodia would attract even more tourists to the coast if it further developed the infrastructure and made more services available in those areas.

“Cambodia’s seaside area is unique. It has crystal-clear water and white, sandy beaches. We also have canals, mangrove forests and mountains,” she said.

Cambodia’s coastal stretches 440km and spans over four provinces – Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Koh Kong and Kep provinces.