Muhammetnyyaz Masalov, the ambassador of Turkmenistan with official residence in Malaysia, revealed plans to introduce direct flights between the Central Asian country and Cambodia. The intent is to solidify their mutual tourism partnership.

This announcement came during his meeting with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon in Phnom Penh on August 14.

Masalov expressed Turkmenistan’s aspiration to be the pioneer Central Asian country to establish direct flight links with the Kingdom.

“We want to deepen the tourism partnership between our nations to elevate mutual tourist exchanges,” he said.

“Congratulations to the Cambodian government for their efforts in reviving and enhancing tourism and the consistent rise in tourist numbers. Recognising the promise of this sector, Turkmenistan wishes to fortify ties with Cambodia to not only increase tourist exchanges between us but also to third countries,” added the envoy.

Furthermore, he emphasised Turkmenistan’s aim to launch a direct flight route to Siem Reap province, one of the Kingdom’s main tourist destinations.

This will enable travellers from Turkmenistan and adjacent nations to explore Angkor, the globally recognised heritage site, and other notable destinations throughout Cambodia.

Masalov suggested organising tourism-related events in both Cambodia and Turkmenistan. Such events, he said, would spotlight the tourist attractions of each country and serve to entice tour operators, thereby advancing shared tourism goals.

Khon voiced his endorsement for the proposal.

“I urge the drafting of a memorandum of understanding [MoU] between Cambodia and Turkmenistan. This will act as a guide for our shared tourism action plans and further attest to the camaraderie and collaboration of our nations,” he said.

Echoing these sentiments, Hong Vannak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, conveyed his support for Turkmenistan’s proposal on August 15.

He highlighted Turkmenistan’s economic progression, suggesting its business leaders have likely gauged the advantages of such an initiative.

“Direct flights would bolster Cambodia’s economic and tourism sectors. They could enhance goods transportation, draw potential investors to Cambodia, and stimulate bilateral ventures in commerce, tourism and education. This is a promising development for Cambodia,” he observed.

Data from the tourism ministry shows that Turkmenistan, alongside Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, currently has no direct flight connections to Cambodia.

Predictions for this year anticipate the Kingdom welcoming approximately five million global tourists. Efforts are ongoing to collaborate with numerous countries to foster tourism ties.

According to the ministry, in the first seven months of this year, Cambodia has hosted over three million international visitors.