Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) and the Ministry of Tourism launch a “Visit Cambodia in 2023” campaign to increase tourism and promote the Kingdom in order to revive the sector after a sharp decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Because Cambodia is hosting the 2023 SEA Games and the ASEAN Para Games, I propose to include this big tourism event in a ‘Visit Cambodia in 2023’ campaign and increase the level of promotion of Cambodia tourism,” he said.

Hun Sen made the remarks at the closing ceremony of the tourism conference to review the status of the sector and summarise the plans to rebuild it and promote Cambodia following the Covid-19 crisis, held in Phnom Penh on July 14.

At the same time, the premier urged all relevant institutions and the people of Cambodia to participate in campaigns related to the biennial multi-sport event next year to help revive development progress in the Kingdom.

“I suggest that relevant ministries and institutions and all citizens participate in the campaigns of ‘Clean Cambodia’ and ‘Clean City, Clean Resorts, Good Service and Good Hospitality’ to enhance the image of Cambodia and celebrate the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games 2023,” he said.

Cambodia plans to use the 2023 SEA Games and the ASEAN Para Games to promote and transform domestic tourism and would also like to increase tourism from ASEAN member countries for this historic first international sporting event in the Kingdom because this would help demonstrate that tourism has recovered in Southeast Asia to the rest of the world.

“The ministers of ASEAN consider the SEA Games in Cambodia in 2023 to be th first big ASEAN sports and tourism event scheduled after Covid-19, which means that for ASEAN, the biggest event happening after the global pandemic has ended is the SEA Games in Cambodia,” said tourism minister Thong Khon, who is also permanent vice-chairman of CAMSOC, in a meeting on June 23.

Khon also serves as president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and currently holds the rotating chair of the SEA Games Federation Council.

“The 2023 SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia are a big and important event for ASEAN, so this work is not just for the host country Cambodia – but for the whole of ASEAN – and the whole ASEAN family is happily striving to make this big and important event taking place in Cambodia better than ever before,” he added.

At the meeting of the Executive Committee of the SEA Games Federation Council and the Council of the ASEAN Para Sports Federation, which ended on July 13, the representatives of the bloc all agreed that Cambodia can sell the television rights for the 2023 SEA Games and the ASEAN Para Games, so that the Kingdom will receive those revenue streams to help offset the costs of hosting the events.

“Cambodia has received the full support of all member countries to sell the television rights to the games across all media markets, which is a big change because the events used to be broadcast freely. This won’t make hosting the games profitable, so Cambodia won’t get rich, but it gives Cambodia a way to earn income through the sale of the television rights,” said Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of CAMSOC, at a press conference on July 13.

Chamroeun, who is also secretary of state at the tourism ministry, said the idea to sell the television rights was widely embraced by the representatives from other ASEAN countries attending the meeting, given that cost is perhaps the largest impediment to hosting the games for many of them.

“We must save money and mobilise more sources of revenue when we host the SEA Games to reduce the costs and burdens of the government. That is one of the key points that we have achieved with this meeting. All of the other countries are applauding this idea and can take the example set by Cambodia and sell their TV rights when they host the SEA Games in their countries,” he said.