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‘Product import controls could save $400M’

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A hotel restaurant in the capital. The Kingdom’s tourism sector generated $4.35 billion last year. POST PIX

‘Product import controls could save $400M’

The tourism industry could save some $400 million from the control of imported tourism-based products to the Kingdom, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an internal ministerial meeting, Khon said cutting down on imports of tourism-based products could save the Kingdom a significant amount of national revenue.

The minister said using local products in the tourism sector is key to promoting stability and economic growth.

“If Cambodia [can reduce] tourism-based product imports by 10 per cent, [we] will save approximately $400 million [of national revenue],” he said.

Cambodia imports 25 per cent of tourism-based products to serve the industry, including raw materials – premium alcoholic drinks, vegetables and meat – as well as furniture and the steel used in the construction of hotels, Khon said.

The Kingdom’s tourism sector generated $4.35 billion last year and is expected to earn $5 billion by 2020.

Cambodia Travel Agent Association president Chhay Sivlin said the Kingdom has seen a shortage in domestic production for its tourism sector despite an increasing number of tourist arrivals.

Sivlin said promoting local products is important in boosting national economic growth.

“If we can reduce the number of imports and promote good quality local products, I truly believe it will help build the country’s reputation and attract tourists to stay longer."

“As we know, the number of foreign visitors keeps increasing and demand is currently more than supply, so the country needs to employ more staff to meet needs,” she said.

Cambodia generated more than $35.95 million from Angkor Archaeological Park ticket sales alone in the first quarter of this year – a 9.34 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year.

Data from previous years shows that the Kingdom consumed an average of 500 tonnes of vegetables per day, at a daily cost of between $200,000 and $300,000, while it has imported around 40 per cent of its fruits and vegetables at an annual cost of around $200 million – mainly from Vietnam.

Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism co-chair Luu Meng said most international hotel chains that use almost exclusively imported products are costing the tourism sector.

“We should advocate for investors to make use of local products first before using imports, and the government should provide [encouragement] to those who use local products,” he said.

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