Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on Cambodian farmers to step up supplies of the raw materials used for the production of items determined to be significantly able to attract and satisfy touristic demand, in order to reduce imports of similar food products and commodities.
Speaking at the 9th Sea Festival in Sihanoukville on the evening of December 10, the premier said that the government has designated the tourism sector as a priority, for its notable contributions to Cambodia’s socio-economic development.
Elaborating, Hun Sen described tourism as a main direct and indirect source of jobs; incomes, domestic trade across Phnom Penh and the provinces; government revenues; and economic growth.
He added that the sector – which he termed “green gold” – also largely contributes to the “effective and responsible” preservation of culture, the environment and natural resources, and is seen as a key part of attaining the government’s vision of transforming the Kingdom into a high-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income economy by 2050.
To give the travel sector space to grow, domestic production needs a leg-up towards internal exports and ensuring the supplies required for the tourism trade, he said, adding that this would create a plethora of opportunities, to fulfil the potential demands of the gradually rising number of international tourists, along with millions of internal holidaymakers.
Offering a possible way to increase internal exports, he said additional arrangements could be made for farmers’ livestock to be sent to hotels to prepare as meals for their guests, especially foreigners.
“Now, I call on the whole tourism sector to become a market for farmers, producers and breeders. This is very important, things are different now: people are clamouring for markets every day,” Hun Sen said.
The premier additionally asked the tourism and agriculture ministries, as well as manufacturing players, to jointly draw up plans to make tourism a more viable market for farmers and producers, with a view towards boosting production.
Speaking to The Post, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin highlighted that food quality and hygiene standards must meet tourists’ expectations and needs, or else a meaningful pick-up in travel to the Kingdom may remain elusive.
On the other hand, Cambodia boasts a whole spectrum of ingredients and professional chefs with the ability to cook according to the needs and tastes of travellers of all nationalities, including those with Islamic dietary restrictions, she said.
“With more of their agricultural products being used to cook food for tourists, this would not only helps farmers earn more money and reach a bigger market, but also make them more productive,” Sivlin added.
“The level of quality of locally-produced vegetables and meat will be better than before.”
Speaking at the festival, Hun Sen commented that, beyond its “beautiful” bay, Cambodia has thousands of olden temples dotting its landscape, along with a raft of tourist attractions in the northeast and elsewhere.
He underscored that the Sea Festival not only drives home the tourism potential of the coastal provinces, but also reinforces government policy centred on sustainable and responsible tourism development.
The first edition of the Sea Festival was held in Sihanoukville in 2011 to mark the Cambodian bay’s induction into the World-Bays Club, and has since rotated among the four coastal provinces – Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Kampot and Kep.
The festival aims to draw attention to the conservation and preservation of the cultural and natural resources of the Kingdom’s coastal areas.