The Ministry of Tourism is set to organise a remarkable fusion of cultural and martial arts at the iconic Bayon Temple in Siem Reap Province. 

Scheduled for April 24, the Cambodia-China Cultural Tourism Exhibition will showcase the "When Shaolin Meets Bokator at Angkor" event. 

“This event is part of the ‘Cambodia-China People-to-People Exchange Year 2024’, and it’s a bid to bolster tourism and cultural exchanges between the Kingdom’s Siem Reap province and Henan province of China,” according to the Ministry of Tourism. 

The event, which commences at 7.30am, promises an engaging encounter with masters of both Shaolin and Bokator martial arts. 

“More than 500 attendees, including high-ranking officials, members of several tourism associations, journalists, and martial arts performers from both nations, are expected to grace the event,” according to the ministry’s announcement. 

The joint performance aims to enhance the cultural bonds and present a unique tourist attraction that showcases the rich martial arts heritage of both countries.

Top Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, explained that the Cambodia-China Cultural Tourism Exhibition is an initiative of Minister of Tourism Sok Soken as part of the "Cambodia-China People-to-People Exchange Year 2024" with the Henan Provincial Administration of China, as well as the Siem Reap Provincial Administration. 

"It is an event which will attract more Chinese tourists and tpromote the potential of Cambodian tourism culture, as we have an exhibition of Chinese and Cambodian cultural and tourism products," he told the Post. 

Sopheak noted that in 2023, Cambodia attracted about 540,000 Chinese tourists, and in 2024, Cambodia is expected to welcome about 1 million guests from China. 

The provincial leadership of the Shaolin school of martial arts, originally from Henan Province, will showcase their unique martial art, while Cambodia will also show off their Bokator from the Cambodian Bokator Association.

Long Kosal, spokesman for the Apsara National Authority, emphasised the event's purpose as a means to foster cross-cultural understanding. He highlighted its role in strengthening relations and promoting cooperation. 

“When it comes to the promotion of tourism, culture plays a vital role. It fosters better connections through mutual understanding," he told The Post. 

He expressed his hope that such events will bolster tourism in Siem Reap, attracting more visitors for extended stays.

The "Cambodia-China People-to-People Exchange Year 2024" is a bilateral initiative aimed at strengthening cultural, social, and educational exchanges between Cambodia and China. 

This special year-long programme is designed to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples of the two nations through a variety of activities including cultural events, educational exchanges, and tourism promotions. 

The initiative is part of a broader effort to deepen diplomatic ties and cooperation, while promoting increased mutual cultural appreciation and economic collaboration between the two countries.

In an effort to promote international cultural tourism, the tourism ministry has invited tourism associations, the private sector, and media representatives, both local and international, to participate and spread the word. 

This event is not just a cultural exhibition, but also a platform to attract more Chinese tourists and investors, and is expected to make a significant contribution to the “Visit Siem Reap 2024” initiative, said the ministry.

The initiative, a tourism promotion campaign, was announced by Prime Minister Hun Manet in March. 

It aims to boost tourism in Siem Reap, home to the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park, by implementing a range of tax and travel incentives to attract more visitors, particularly international arrivals.

The initiative will be supported by the private sector and includes specific action plans to enhance the tourism value chain in the region. This encompasses the promotion of local attractions, improving connectivity between major tourist destinations and creating an appealing tourism environment throughout 2024.

The collaboration has been described as indicative of the strengthening ties between Cambodia and China, and promises to write a new chapter in their long-standing relationship. 

It’s a celebration of shared traditions and the forging of new alliances through the universal languages of art and performance.