In a move to bolster tourism in Siem Reap, SME Bank has rolled out an exclusive loan program tailored for local tour operators.

The initiative promises favourable financing, aiming to rejuvenate the province’s tourism industry and empower businesses with the support they need to thrive.

The announcement was made by the bank’s CEO Lim Aun during a December 29 press conference discussing the direct loan programme for tour operators in the province. 

Aun detailed the initiative’s benefits, such as a preferential payment period of up to 24 months, no credit preparation fees, no penalties for early repayments and more lenient approval terms compared to regular loans. 

“I feel positive about the direct loan programme for tour operators in Siem Reap. It plays a necessary role in revitalising Cambodia’s socio-economic activity,” he said.

“As a result, tourism in the province is regaining stability and moving forward, embracing manageable and inclusive development aligned with government policies. This involves close collaboration with all stakeholders, ministries, associations and business owners,” he added.

Aun noted that the government’s key objective is primarily geared towards boosting and revitalising tourism. 

He believes this will be achieved through initiatives like the Tourism Development Master Plan Siem Reap 2021-2035, the Visit Siem Reap 2024 campaign, the direct loan initiative and the recent opening of Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI). 

“The policies are designed to boost tourism, ensuring its sustainable recovery and support. I have strong hopes and belief that tour operators will grow their businesses with competitiveness and attractiveness, elevating the quality of professional, transparent, safe and secure services to welcome both domestic and international guests,” he added.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said on January 1 that the loan programme is a crucial platform for tour operators, fulfilling their long-awaited expectations.

She noted that the second package of $50 million in loans illustrates the government’s commitment to enhancing tourism, especially in Siem Reap. The Ministry of Tourism is actively engaged in understanding and addressing the challenges and difficulties faced by tour operators.

“I believe that tour operators in Siem Reap will harness the loans responsibly and creatively to enhance and expand their businesses. They will diversify their services, aiming to attract and welcome an even larger number of visitors,” she said.

According to the bank, the loan programme is available for a range of businesses, including hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, souvenir shops, tour companies, transport companies and other services supporting the industry. 

It said the entities have the option to apply for loans of up to $600,000 with an annual interest rate of 6.5 per cent.

Over the past three years, the bank has extended loans to approximately 3,200 enterprises, amounting to roughly $490 million, as reported by the bank.