CAMBODIAN government officials have emphasised the independence of the domestic tourism industry from its Thai counterpart in a statement.
Ministry of Tourism Secretary of State So Mora told the Post the Kingdom’s tourist attractions stood very much on their own, and that if anything the two countries enjoyed mutual benefits from visitors to the region.
“So we’re not really dependent on Thailand for anything to survive. On the contrary, Thailand’s tourism sector earns a lot of profit from tourism to Cambodia,” he said.
So Mara pointed to package tours being sold by Thailand that included trips to Cambodia and well-known sites like Angkor Wat, as well as the country’s eco-tourism destinations.
He also said that Cambodia’s tourism sector remained strong during the global economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, while Thailand’s industry saw declines.
“The numbers of foreign tourists arriving in our country increases every year, and it shows that our tourism sector is not at all dependent on Thailand," he said.
So Mara added that Thailand is not the main route into Cambodia anymore, as flights from elsewhere in Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole, as well as Europe, bring new visitors to the country every year. Tourists can enter through borders gates other than those shared with Thailand as well, he said.
Cambodian Association of Travel Agents President Ang Kim Eang yesterday agreed with So Mara, saying tourists now have many points through which to access the Kingdom, which made the country less dependent on Thailand.
But he also said Thailand has come to depend in part on Cambodia for tourism revenues, such as in the case of Preah Vihear.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has released a statement claiming Thailand’s Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya told reporters at last week’s ASEAN Summit in Jakarta that Cambodia’s tourism industry was reliant on Thailand.
The statement could not verified by Thai sources yesterday.
The Jakarta Post last Monday quoted Kasit Piromya as saying: “…there’s a growth in Thai tourism to Cambodia and at the same time, we are a transit point as international airlines come to Thailand and visitors take regional airlines to Cambodia. So Thailand is an entry point for Cambodian tourism.”