The Ministry of Tourism and the Siem Reap Provincial Administration held an August 11 workshop to share the Kingdom’s standard operating procedures on providing a “smoke-free tourism environment”.

Representatives from the capital and provincial administrations were present disseminated what they have learned to tourism operators in their home provinces.

A provincial administration statement said Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Manny Raingsey addressed the event, telling the assembled guests that as the province is home to the UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat, it is one of the Kingdom’s main tourist destinations.

She said that as soon as the Covid-19 situation was relieved by the success of the government’s vaccination programme, the Kingdom was able to reopen its doors. As a result, Siem Reap has seen an influx of domestic and international tourists who have come to visit the province’s many temples.

She believed that the return of tourists was made possible by several factors, including peace, stability and social order, as well as the successful management of Covid-19. She noted that Cambodia is internationally recognised for its successful handling of the pandemic.

“Here in Siem Reap, we are focused on revitalising the tourism industry and preparing for the resumption of pre-pandemic visitor numbers. We are doing so through the implementation of health measures, regulations, administrative measures and especially tourism safety rules and minimum standard operating procedures. In this way, we will ensure that the industry adheres to the rules of the ‘new normal’ for tourism services,” she said.

Ministry secretary of state Hor Sarun also addressed the workshop. He noted that building a smoke-free environment will contribute to strengthening the excellence of Cambodia’s tourism sector.

“By promoting well-being and reducing negative health effects on those working in the sector, we will increase its attractiveness,” he said.

“This is another way in which provinces, towns and districts have the opportunity to participate in the development of tourism, as well as building their identities as smoke-free in the hearts of domestic and international tourists,” he added.

Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) executive director Mom Kong said on August 13 that the workshop intended to make sure that the authorities in each province understood the contents of the laws on tobacco control, and could share them with tourism business owners, including restaurant and hotel operators.

He added that business owners must implement a ban on the sale and use of cigarettes in tourist institutions.

“The workshop will enable the provincial health departments – as well as tourism authorities – to educate business owners on their responsibilities,” he explained.

“We have also compiled a handbook for hotel, restaurant and club owners to read, so they can understand their roles in making tourism centres smoke-free,” he said.

Earlier this year, Kampot town of Kampot province was recognized by the ministry, the WHO and the Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance and awarded smoke-free certification.