Thailand’s plan to launch a new bus service connecting Bangkok to Siem Reap province via Si Sa Ket district is being described by local industry representatives as an effort to divert tourism dollars away from Cambodia.
Arkhom Termpittayapisit, Thailand’s deputy transport minister told the Bangkok Post on Monday that a new bus service would be operational by ASEAN integration, due in December. The launch will coincide with the completion of a new road connecting Bangkok to Thailand’s Si Sa Ket district, which crosses over to Oddar Meanchey province.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, however, said the new road also aims to boost tourism in Thailand northeastern provinces, which is 100 kilometres away from Siem Reap and also houses a number of ancient temples.
“Their real strategy is to link their ancient temple sites in the northeastern part of Thailand to Siem Reap province,” he said.
“By doing this, they can offer one-day visits to Cambodia’s ancient temples from Thailand and encourage longer tourist stays within their own country.”
“Despite that, it will ease the arrival of people and goods between Thailand and Cambodia,” Kim Eang concluded.
Chheuy Chhorn, deputy director of Siem Reap’s Tourism Department, expressed no concern over Thailand’s plan.
He said the route will provide better transit for international visitors travelling between Bangkok and Cambodia’s Angkor Temple complex.
“Usually mainly Thai tourists come through these two border points to go to Casinos in Oddar Meanchey province,” Chhorn said.
“But with the new road and bus line, we will see more foreign tourists coming through these border points from Si Sa Ket and then on to Siem Reap .”
The Si Sa Ket border crossing leads to Siem Reap via Highway 67. The distance is around 135 km. Thailand’s state-owned Transport Co Ltd currently operates bus services to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh through Poipet town of Banteay Meanchey province.