Preah Sihanouk province is set to host two major tourism-related events in December, which industry insiders expect will attract an influx of foreign visitors to the Kingdom, as the tourism minister calls on agencies to set suitable, competitive and attractive prices for tour packages.
The Ministry of Tourism noted in a statement that it will host the 9th Sea Festival – the first since 2019, before Covid-19 – on December 9-11, in conjunction with the World-Bays Club’s 2022 World Congress on December 9-14.
Leisure travel has yet to return to pre-Covid levels due to “livelihood factors” among locals and foreigners, tourism minister Thong Khon told a preparatory meeting for the festival.
Khon, who also heads the inter-ministerial committee tasked with organising the festival, said that private businesses need to improve service quality and develop more vibrant, flexible, and reasonably-priced tour packages in the near future, taking into account current living conditions and barriers to travel, to be competitive with overseas markets.
“Should the private sector arrange for affordable tours as well as easier access to international checkpoints to enter Cambodia, the Cambodian tourism sector would be able to attract more sightseers,” he said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche said that the Sea Festival is a “big and important” annual event, and that the World-Bays Club’s world congress would boost tourism growth in the province and nationwide.
The province will continue working to support the events, as well as stimulate internal and international tourism during and after, he said, adding that foreign visitors to Preah Sihanouk are on an upswing.
On the contrary, Thourn Sinan, chairman of IMCT Co Ltd and Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter (PATACC), argued that the Sea Festival was “not very attractive” to foreign travellers. Still, the event results in domestic trips that help boost the local economy, he said.
“Through experience, as we’ve seen in the past, the festival has not been a major driver of international tourism. By the same vein, the bay club’s congress is just a simple meeting without any features that could attract international tourists,” he said.
The tourism ministry reported that Cambodia received more than 240,000 international visitors in the first four months of this year, up over 190 per cent year-on-year.