Kep provincial governor Som Piseth hailed the positive impact of sport on tourism, with the coastal province’s hosting of ASEAN Sports Day on August 8 having attracted increased numbers of domestic and international tourists.

“This event not only promotes sports and wellness, but has also drawn many visitors to Kep,” he said, as he​ addressed the opening ceremony of the August 8 event.

The event drew 1,294 participants, including police and military personnel, civil servants, students and members of the public from Kep as well as neighbouring Kampot.

Among the activities were a 15km cycling race with some 200 participants and a 5km run with 400 entrants, with 400 people involved in aerobic exercise.

Piseth highlighted recent efforts to promote sports in Kep, with the provincial administration and other stakeholders having improved the provincial stadium and sports facilities in schools and public parks, as well as equipped public areas with gym equipment.

The initiatives aimed at encouraging people to engage in physical activities for better health.

The administration has also been proactive in organising sports competitions for primary and secondary schools, as well as other mass sporting events.

Notably, Kep played a role in the 32nd SEA Games, hosting the triathlon event with participants from seven countries.

The countries taking part in the May 6-8 triathlon event included Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand,

Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines – with a total of nearly 200 athletes and delegates.

Cambodia’s triathlon team achieved significant victories during the SEA Games, securing two gold medals and one silver for what were historic accomplishments.

Piseth urged collaboration between the General Department of Sports under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to organise additional sporting events in Kep.

Noting Kep’s abundant natural resources and strong public order, Piseth emphasised the positive impact of past events on the local community.

“Past events were efficiently organised, and provided various benefits to residents, business owners and the entire province.

“Tourists, athletes and delegates who visited contributed to the local economy by spending money on accommodation, food and more.

“All of these activities became valuable mechanisms that invigorated the economic foundation of the people across Kep, providing them with extra income and aligning with the government’s poverty alleviation strategies,” he said.

As per the education ministry’s plan, the ASEAN Sports Day 2023 adhered to the ASEAN Five-Year Plan.

The plan encourages all ASEAN member countries to hold this annual event and promote the message of “Each person should play at least one sport”.

The initiative aims to foster physical and mental wellbeing, friendship, solidarity and enjoyment, while contributing to national sports development, family economies, society and a harmonious ASEAN community.

Education ministry undersecretary of state Bou Chumserey highlighted how Cambodia’s hosting of ASEAN Sports Day aligned with decisions at previous regional bloc meetings.

It coordinated with outcomes of the Meeting of ASEAN Sports Ministers in Malaysia in 2015, and a resolution from the 2nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Sports, in Myanmar in October 2017 designating August 8 as the ASEAN Sports Day to be equally observed by all member countries.

“This year we chose Kep, a renowned tourist destination, to host the ASEAN Sports Day.

“This decision aims to boost technical advancements in sports and contribute to the province’s tourism development, further enhancing its prosperity,” he said.