Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
National and International Guests,
Today, I am very pleased to officiate the launching of the Tourism Strategic Development Plan 2012 – 2020. On behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to highly value the managements and government officials of the Ministry of Tourism and concerned ministries, who have been working very closely to prepare this tourism strategic development plan. This assignment is the pooling of intellectual resources and the spirit of working collectively to lay out new measures to continue implementing the plan of the tourism sector consistently with the objectives of other sector in order to enhance work efficiency and development of the tourism sector. From this work, we can see that policy actions undertaken become more consistent with those of other ministries/organizations and stakeholders for the cause of realizing more achievements for the nation and providing strong foundation for current and future economic growth because this sector has an important role in promoting economic growth and social development.
The Tourism Development Strategic Plan 2012 – 2020, which is one of the important national documents, set out clear and long-term vision for the sustainable development of the tourism sector, especially by focusing on the potentials of natural and cultural endowments. Indeed, culture tourism has been regarded as a high priority in our effort to develop tourism in Cambodia, along with the improvement of eco-tourism, which is a new vision and tourism target for contributing to the tackle of climate change, poverty reduction and green economic development in Cambodia. Generally speaking, the tourism sector has been considered as one of the priority sectors or can be so-called “green gold” because it tremendously contributes to creating and increasing job opportunity, directly and indirectly increasing people’s income, promoting on-the-spot export, bolstering economic growth and national revenue, which contribute to poverty reduction.
This strategic plan projects that Cambodia will receive 7 million foreign tourists and between 8 and 10 million domestic tourists travelling around the country in 2020. According to this projection, revenue from tourism sector will increase to USD 5 billion per annum, which is a significant contribution to GDP growth, improvement of living standard and creation of around 800,000 jobs for the people. In addition, the tourism sector is part of a closely linked system that will contribute to the development of other sectors.
To realize the vision set out in the tourism strategic development plan and ensure equitable distribution of tourism growth to all stakeholders, we have to continue implementing five fundamental principles, including: (1) the adoption of an open approach for tour business activities by supporting level playing field and market principle policy to ensure favorable condition for business environment and tourism activities; (2) the active implementation of supportive policies for the development of tourism sector, in particular the implementation of open sky policy for air, waterway and land routes to further facilitate travelling and transportation; (3) the continued strengthening of cooperation between the government, private sector cooperation and development partners to promote the development of tourism sector, enhance nation’s reputation, solidarity, cooperation and integration into the region and the globe; (4) promotion of the development of the sector in order to create markets for domestic products since the tourism sector is on-the-spot export. We also need to encourage and make it easy for the people to take part in the development of tourism sector, in particular local people at tourism destinations for the sake of sustainable development, job creation and reduction of migration and poverty; (5) strengthening of law enforcement and use of relevant regulations to protect the interest of legal tourists, stakeholders and assurance of sustainable development tourism sector with high quality and responsibility.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to lay out some recommendations to the management and officials of the Ministry of Tourism, related ministries/organizations to use as the key guidance for implementing this strategic plan and continuing the development of the whole tourism sector. Those include:
First, we must continue our effort to develop tourism products through the implementation of tourism product and destination diversification strategy, as well as enhancement of the quality of tourism products and services in the capital and all provinces, especially in priority tourist destinations. Therefore, the Ministry of Tourism needs to continue its effort to cooperate with other ministries/institutions in managing tourism industry by reinforcing the implementation of the Law on Tourism and preparing more regulations in order to ensure the consistency of development and conservation. In parallel, there is a need to continue the movement of ”Clean city, Clean resort, and Good service” contest which is a campaign to effectively strengthen the quality of tourism products, cleanliness, green and to participate in promoting the movement of “One Tourist, One Tree” or “Planting Trees Start from You”.
Second, there is a need continue our attention on establishing souvenir seller communities and souvenir seller associations, developing tourism communities, eco-tourism communities, especially in priority tourism sites to contribute to the conservation and protection of natural resources, cultural assets, and rural traditions and customs and create jobs for local people so that they can equitably benefit from tourism and other economic activities.
Third, we must continue and strengthen cooperation with the private sector to attract tourists from ASEAN, ASEAN plus three, India and emerging markets such as Russia, and Arab world and so on. In addition, we must also focus on existing markets such as Europe, China and America. Along with this, we need to strengthen the “Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” campaign by broadly promoting Khmer food and dessert to more tourists. In addition, there is a need to strengthen and expand activities to disseminate tourism in the development triangle area in northeastern provinces of Cambodia (Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam development triangle area) and coastal areas.
Fourth, the inter-ministerial commission needs to focus on facilitating border crossing through intentional border check-points and on building better infrastructure for welcoming inbound tourists, such as parking lots, waiting areas, passenger crossing areas, money exchange services, information counters and so on, especially for facilitating travelling procedures. Moreover, the Ministry of Tourism, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, and other stakeholders need to continue paying attention to coordinating and attracting more direct flights from ASEAN, ASEAN plus Three, India, Russia, Arab and European markets to Cambodia, and encouraging the national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, to expand its flights in the region, especially in ASEAN and ASEAN plus Three regions. In addition, we need to also focus our attention on attracting more budget airlines to operate their flights to Cambodia.
Fifth, the Ministry of Tourism needs to cooperate with relevant ministries and institutions, under the framework of National Committee for Tourism Development and other appropriate mechanisms in order to promote the expansion of pro-tourism infrastructure such as the rehabilitation and the construction of roads toward tourist destinations, airports, railway connectivity, tourism port construction, electricity and clean water supply, solid and liquid waste management, which all contribute to the movement of “Clean City, Clean Resort, and Good Service” contest. In addition, for long-term development, there is a need to conduct a feasibility study on the construction of a new airport with the international standard in Phnom Penh with the capacity of 10 million passengers passing through a year.
Sixth, the Ministry of Interior, National Police Commission and especially the tourist police unit must work hard to ensure peace, security, and pubic order for tourists in all destinations. Furthermore, I urge tour operators/businesspeople to take part in the establishment of private security volunteers to help maintaining security and safety in tourist sites with the public security forces. At the same time, the Ministry of Tourism must cooperate with the Ministry of Interior, National Police Commission, the Ministry of Health, private sector and relevant institutions to improve safety assurance system and rescue preparedness for tourists by preparing a national plan for assuring the safety of tourists and introducing clear mechanisms and measures on safety and rescue services for tourists when they face any accident/problem.
Seventh, we must focus attention on human resource development, especially tourism-related vocational skills as this task is a determinant and a basis for strengthening the quality of tourism services. To achieve that, we must promote the development of tourism vocational training centers and national tourism institutes for developing human resources in the tourism sector in order to ensure the implementation of various regional and international agreements on the development of human resources and movement of tourism-related workers, especially for the implementation within ASEAN framework from 2015 onward.
Eighth, while we are making every effort to attract international tourists to visit Cambodia, we must not forget the importance and necessity of promoting the movement of local tourists to contribute to the development of internal economic activities, the promotion of patriotic spirit and participation in the protection of natural resources and cultural heritages, and local socio-economic development, especial local communities.
Ninth, we must conduct study on challenges for tourism development and work together to properly and timely address those barriers to further develop tourism sector.
Tenth, there is a need to adopt the concept of “clean and green” which is a wise choice for the present and the future. Cleanliness refers to hygiene, orderly conduct in public places, preservation of nature’s green including biodiversity, tree replanting, energy and water saving and the use of renewable energy in tourism and other related sectors. It also creates attraction and promotes green development.
Eleventh, we must regularly review the effectiveness of the implementation of this strategic plan and seek financial sources for the plan implementation. Moreover, we must continue mobilizing investment resources to maximize gain in a sustainable manner, fully capitalize on technical assistances provided by development partners, seek more technical assistances and promote private sector investment to maximize development opportunities and ensure sustainable development of this sector.
Twelfth, Cambodia has famous world heritages such as Angkor Wat temple and Preah Vihear temple, as well as beautiful beaches, diversity of eco-tourism and natural tourism sites which are our invaluable assets, therefore, we need to join hands to protect, conserve and sustainably develop these assets. In addition, we need to continue our tradition of warm and friendly smile, participate in movements aimed at promoting cleanliness and getting rid of litter and plastic bags in cities, urban areas and villages to transform Cambodia into an attractive green tourism destination in the region and the world.
(1st) Although there is a low level of security, safety and social order problems occurring in the country, especially in Phnom Penh, there can be a significantly negative impact on tourists. They will be frightened and worry about their safety during the visit and stay in Cambodia. These problems include pick-pocketing, robbery, murdering, anarchic gun firing (caused by disputes among heavily drunk people, traffic disputes and so on) which require further attention from relevant authorities to reduce these problems to the lowest possible level.
(2nd) Samdech Techo should underline the negative impact of traffic accidents on the society and tourism sector. Although concerned ministries/institutions, the Cambodia Red Cross, civil society and competent forces have worked together to enforce the Land Traffic Law, the rate of traffic accident in Cambodia is still high compared to the region’s average. Therefore, concerned ministries/institutions and competent forces must intensify their cooperation to effectively implement the Land Traffic Law.
Concerned ministries/institutions and competent forces must enforce the law and simultaneously advise drivers to follow the speed limits, fasten seatbelts if travelling by car or wear helmets if travelling by motorbikes, avoid alcohol before and during driving cars or riding motorbikes, avoid driving if feeling sleepy, and so forth.
Along with this, we must also install traffic signs at appropriate locations, broaden the dissemination of traffic issues to the public, continue controlling all kinds of vehicle, especially buses, provincial route taxis to ensure roadworthiness by checking both the quality and technical characteristic of those vehicles, and drivers’ skill to ensure passengers’ safety, and continue cracking down on the use of illegal vehicle plates and the illegal use of police and army vehicle plates and so forth.
What we gain from the tourism sector is the benefit for the whole society for the present and the future. Therefore, our effort to realize the aforementioned concept for the cause of the development of the tourism sector will transform this Kingdom of Wonder into an attractive and highly competitive destination that is ready to warmly welcome tourists from all races and all market segments, including culture and nature tourists, more importantly, to contribute to the realization of our optimistic vision of 4.5 million inbound tourists in 2015 and 7 million inbound tourists in 2020.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I highly value the management and officials of the Ministry of Tourism, the Committee for Economic and Financial Policy, the Supreme National Economic Council, concerned ministries/institutions and other stakeholders for the close collaboration to realize Tourism Strategic Development Plan which will become a valuable document for the nation. Taking this opportunity, I would like to urge concerned ministries/institutions, all levels of local authorities, development partners, national and international organizations and the people to support and actively take part to ensure the success of the implementation of the Tourism Strategic Development Plan 2012 – 2020.
I strongly hope that all stakeholders, including the government, private sector, national and international organizations and development partners will use the Strategic Plan on Tourism Development as a guide in our effort to develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner, with quality and responsibility in order to promote Cambodia’s reputation on international stage and make “the Kingdom of Wonder” a world-class “Culture and Nature” tourism destination.
In the end, I would like to declare the launching of the Tourism Strategic Development Plan 2012 – 2020 for official use from now on and wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished national and international guests four gems of Buddhist blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness and Strength.
Thanks for your kind attention!