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Swiss tourism bigwig anxious to invest in Cambodia, envoy says

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Tourists visit waterfall in Mondulkiri province. Heng Chivoan

Swiss tourism bigwig anxious to invest in Cambodia, envoy says

Swiss tourism giant Asian Trails Group, which is currently involved in the Royal Sands Koh Rong resort, is looking to secure a piece of the tourism market share now that the Kingdom is pushing ahead with reopening plans and Covid benchmarks are trending lower, according to Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn.

He told The Post that this was confirmed at a meeting on December 28 with Swiss ambassador to Thailand Helene Budliger Artieda to discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and the mountainous landlocked Central European country.

Asian Trails sees a lot of tourism potential in Cambodia, above all in eco-tourism, Sorphorn said, adding that the company has offices in the country, as well as in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong.

He said his embassy has worked with at least 37 other diplomatic missions in Thailand to promote investment opportunities in Cambodia, with a heavy focus on the new investment law and supporting regulations.

“We’ve been promoting new investment legislation, economic diplomacy policies and post-Covid-19 reforms introduced by the economy ministry, we’ve noticed for a while that some foreign companies in Thailand are interested in expanding operations in Cambodia,” Sorphorn said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy said foreign investment in tourism companies accounts for just 20 per cent, although he noted that many businesses went bankrupt during Covid.

This is in stark contrast from 30 years ago when most tour companies were foreign-owned. But now, increasingly capable and financially stable local entrepreneurs are starting up more of these businesses, he said.

“After the announcement was given to reopen to international tourists fully-vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, about 70 to 80 per cent of tour operators reopened, and moreover, a handful of new companies sprung up,” Vandy said.

But he indicated that not many more businesses have reopened since the Omicron variant was reported last month, and noted that foreign operators are anxiously waiting to see how the Covid-19 situation unfolds.

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