The private sector considers the establishment of the “Tonle Sap Eco-Tourism Network” proposed by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, and known as the TEN Network, as an important step in attracting national and international tourists to explore the potential of the Tonle Sap Lake.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the ecotourism sector is currently receiving a lot of attention from development partners, and that the Tonle Sap Lake is of particular interest to them.

Based on this, she said it was an ideal time for the Ministry of Tourism to establish the TEN Network. It would lead to the increased possibility of securing support to develop ecotourism sites in many locations around the lake.

“It is very important. The Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest and most famous freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia. We must take advantage of it in order to attract more tourists through development and conservation – from our development partners as well as the government,” she said.

Sivlin was pleased that the tourism ministry was working to promote the potential of the lake, and looked forward to positive results coming from the work.

Tourism minister Thong Khon, chairman of the National Committee for Management and Development of Community-Based Tourism and Ecotourism, recently set out guidelines for Secretariat of the National Committee to promote the establishment of the TEN Network.

The goals set by the minister include mobilising support for the network, laying out its operational mechanisms, and requesting technical and financial support from national and international development partners.

Khon said the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, is the heart of Cambodia. It is priceless for its contribution to society, the economy, culture and the environment. The uniqueness of the Tonle Sap Lake is that it absorbs water from the Mekong River in the rainy season and releases them back in the dry season, a rare hydrological phenomenon.

“This phenomenon has created large wetlands and flooded forests, which provide habitats for biodiversity such as fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and many species of plants,” he said.

“These factors create many opportunities for local economic development and the harmonisation of sustainable economic, social and environmental and inclusive development. The lake also enhances Cambodia’s prestige on the international stage,” he added.

The minister said the TEN Network will be an effective institution which will mobilise stakeholders from public institutions, national and international organisations and the private sector to contribute to.