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Siem Reap tourism master plan in motion

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A view of Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province earlier this month. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Siem Reap tourism master plan in motion

The government on October 20 launched the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035 at a virtual ceremony presided over by Ministry of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth.

The minister told the event that the plan would be a key tool driving the tourism industry in Siem Reap province, and the Kingdom, towards continual improvements in terms of quality, safety and sustainability, and undergirding a recovery in economic growth, during and after Covid-19.

The plan was greenlit by the government on March 30, and its launch comes after quarantine requirements for most fully-vaccinated travellers was reduced from 14 to seven days, as the Kingdom presses ahead with its phased reopening plans.

The master plan prescribes seven primary strategic areas for quality tourism development in the province and surrounding regions through 2035 – prioritisation of tourist sites; new tourism products; promotion; quality and sustainability; environmental management; infrastructure and connectivity; and administration.

Pornmoniroth said: “With the introduction and furtherance of these strategies and key plans, I surmise that we’ll be able to restore and prop up the tourism sector in Cambodia, in the context of the national framework, and directly in Siem Reap province above all.

“We can seize the opportunities made possible by this crisis to roll out in-depth reforms – designed to turn Cambodia into a quality, safe and sustainable tourist destination – that will bear fruit and offer support for a recovery in economic growth in light of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon lauded the master plan as a critical strategic instrument that could transform Siem Reap into a major, beguiling tourist destination that is popular in the region and the rest of the world, through development based on natural and cultural heritage, history and religion, embellished by the consciousness of being Khmer.

The plan could, inter alia, bolster development of rich tourism resources in the provinces, generate high-quality tourist experiences, win global recognition for efforts to conserve and protect cultural heritage and the natural environment, he said.

Foreign tourists will come to the Kingdom, stimulating local economic development and contributing to poverty alleviation and the climate change cause, he added.

“To outline the ingredients needed to capture the vision of sustainable tourism development, against a backdrop of fiercer tourism competition during and after the Covid-19 crisis, the master plan sets out the overall scope, integrating cultural and eco-tourism offerings for Siem Reap, bearing in mind that visiting Angkor temple has traditionally been the primary reason for tourists to come to the province.” Khon said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said the master plan will play a fundamental role in the Kingdom’s tourism revival, especially for Siem Reap, following a steep Covid-induced slump.

The launch of the plan comes as Cambodia readies to reopen its economy and welcome back fully-vaccinated foreign tourists, she said.

“The decision to implement the master plan will greatly contribute to the enhancement of tourism sector. The master plan also incorporates key elements that will ensure that Cambodia’s tourism sector is sustainable with a long-term vision,” Sivlin said.

On April 1, the Ministry of Tourism said that through the strategies put forth by this and supplementary instruments, Siem Reap could attract 10.9 million domestic tourists by 2023 and 7.5 million international tourists by 2025, creating 940,000 jobs and generating an additional $6 billion in revenue for the province’s economy.

From January-July, Cambodia received 112,544 international visitors, marking a steep decline of 90.6 per cent year-on-year, according to the tourism ministry.

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