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‘Covid spurs rural tourism’

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Domestic travel to tourist destinations throughout the country has restarted. Heng Chivoan

‘Covid spurs rural tourism’

On World Tourism Day on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Covid-19 crisis had spurred the interest of tourists to visit rural and natural areas.

He delivered the message under the theme Tourism and Rural Development and said rural tourism had helped prevent people from migrating by creating jobs.

“Rural tourism has stopped migration by creating jobs and preserving and promoting culture, heritage and traditions. It has also protected and preserved natural resources and brought innovation and creative ideas to local people,” Hun Sen said.

He said domestic travel to tourist destinations throughout the country had restarted. Travellers think of wellbeing and public health as a priority, he said, before adding that rural tourism could help restore the economy.

Hence, relevant authorities had to define tourism as a strategic pillar within the policy of rural development, with a specific plan according to the tourist potential of each area.

Each area gains the participation of local communities in the form of a public-private partnership, he said.

The prime minister also applauded last year’s tourism sector growth, saying the world had hosted as many as 1.5 billion international tourists, representing a four per cent growth.

The sector had created some 330 million jobs, equivalent to 10 per cent of total jobs in the world and generated about 10.3 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), he said.

On Cambodia’s tourism sector, Hun Sen said it had grown remarkably. In 1998, the Kingdom hosted more than 280,000 tourists and last year, 6.6 million tourists visited the country.

The sector had created direct jobs for more than 630,000 people. Thousands of other jobs were also created indirectly.

During the rescheduled Khmer Year New holiday, Hun Sen said 1.5 million Cambodians had visited tourist destinations, which generated $100 million in local income.

“This responsible opening up of domestic tourism gained admiration from the UN World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO]. In particular, during the holidays, Cambodians visited tourist destinations and adhered to Covid-19 protective health measures,” he said.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on Friday led a meeting discussing a draft of a roadmap on restoring and promoting post-Covid-19 tourism in Cambodia for 2020-2025.

Khon said: “Through this plan which is for the next five years, [tourism] will bring back seven million international tourists and increase the participation of the tourism sector in the economy and society,” he said at the meeting.

He said plans to restore and promote tourism laid out measures for an intervention policy for the short-, medium- and long-term in three main stages.

In the first stage, the ministry manages the crisis, adapts the new normal and prepares plans for restoration (from the second semester of 2020 to the first semester of 2021).

The second stage is recovery and restoration of tourism (the second semester of 2021-2022), and the third stage is a relaunching the tourism sector in Cambodia (2023-2025).

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