Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure for me to attend the inauguration of the Pansea Angkor Hotel – a new edifice of the hotel industry in Siemreap. Today we all are witness of a new historical event in the development of tourism and hospitality industry on the land of Angkor.
Having listened to the speech of H.E. VENG SEREIVUTH, Senior Minister and Minister of Tourism and the report presented by Mr. ROBERT MOLINARI, Co-President of the Pansea Hotels and Resorts, I wish to commend and sincerely thank Mr. ROBERT MOLINARI and his colleagues for their support and trust in the policy of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), reflected in their investments in the tourism sector.
Today, Siemreap, a center for ancient Khmer culture and civilization, welcome a new five-star, luxurious, wooden hotel with 56 rooms, built in accordance with international and environmental standards by renown experts and decorated with Khmer sculpture. Indeed, this edifice does not only represent an investment, but also a proud for the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia. This hotel will strengthen the capacity of the tourism industry and provide more business opportunities in Siemreap-Angkor. It is a testimony to the confidence of investors and business people in government’s policies to create an environment conducive to investments and economic growth.
More importantly it is a trust in peace, long-term stability, potentiality and the future of Cambodia’s economic and political developments. Successful implementation of the RGC’s triangular strategy has opened up a golden opportunity for Cambodia’s development, especially in the tourism sector. The achievement of national reconciliation and the restoration of peace, political stability and security in all parts of the country for the first time after many decades of war has been crucial for tourism development. In this sense, I never tire to reiterate again and again that the Royal Government is strongly committed to maintaining peace, security and social order in the country for Cambodians from all walks of lives.
Moreover, Cambodia has been able to restore its image and prestige in the international arena and rapidly integrated into the international community, the region and the world. This is critical in winning the support and trust of investors and international tourists. Moreover, the recent commune elections that we have conducted recently represent a forward step for democracy and a fundamental expression of deepened reform process in all sectors in Cambodia.
It is my conviction that this process will not only unleash the powerful force of financial devolution and engender a far-reaching stimulus for strengthening grassroots democracy, but also significantly structure the social capital of local communities and promote further political stability and security in the country, which is vital for tourism development.
As you are aware, Cambodia has considerable comparative advantages and is endowed with great potentials in tourism, due to its endowment in historical heritages and the beautiful scenery of its beaches, rivers, lakes and natural forests. With these enormous potentials in cultural and natural heritage, our tourism policy is geared toward “cultural and eco-tourism”. These potentials are awaiting investment and sustainable development and are crucial for Cambodia’s economic take-off. For this reason that tourism has been considered as one of the six priority sectors in our strategy to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty of the population.
At present, tourism has experienced dynamic take-off. During the second term of office starting from 1998, tourist arrivals grew on average 25 to 30 percent per year. In 2001, tourist arrivals increased 29.7 percent, compared to 2000. Of these figures, the number of tourists visiting Siemreap-Angkor increased 36 percent and those taking direct flights from neighboring countries grew by 53.6 percent. At the same time, arrivals by land from Poipet increased 101 percent. Thus, the open skies policy has displayed dynamism and benefited tourism development in Cambodia.
According to the statistics, tourist arrivals by direct flights to Siemreap accounted for 22 percent of total arrivals, arrivals at Pochentong airport – 45 percent, while the remaining 33 percent is by road or waterway.At the same time, the government has implemented other measures to facilitate tourism development. For instance, the introduction of visa on arrival has provided the potential visitors with optional choices in making their itinerary. Some visitors come to Siemreap and leave at Pochentong or come through Poipet and leave from Koh Kong. Some make a trip from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville, Kampot, Siemreap and Poipet or from Poipet to Bavet.
Therefore, the Cambodian people have greatly benefited from the government’s open skies policy and other facilitation arrangements. It is my conviction that the policy to open up road and waterway transport will further facilitate the inflow of tourists and promote economic development in Cambodia in general, and tourism development in particular. This will largely contribute to poverty reduction and improvement in our people’s living standards.
With this concept in mind the Royal Government has taken serious strides to rehabilitate and develop road and bridge infrastructure, airports, ports and other ancillary facilities, such as water and power supply, as well as the telecommunications network, which provide a foundation and pre-requisite to transform these tremendous potentials and comparative advantages into reality. At present, Phnom Penh – the heart of our homeland – has gone through a process of rehabilitation and development. In Siemreap-Angkor – our most important tourist destination – a number of roads have been completely built and some are under construction. The construction of five roads leading to the Phnom Krom port will be finished soon. In the near future, we will have public lighting and dredge the Siemreap River.
I believe that as soon as we finished the construction of the road network leading to main tourist destinations and linking Cambodia to neighboring countries and the international airports to accommodate big aircrafts, the number of tourist arrivals to shoot up and Siemreap will receive a million or more tourists. Tourism development will create jobs and generate additional revenue for millions of our compatriots, thus contributing to our government’s strategy to reduce poverty and improve the living standards of our people to a decent level.
Apart from making efforts to expand the domestic market for tourism products, we are conscious of the great potentials of ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion. The expansion of tourism region-wide based on the concept of “Promoting the region as a single tourist destination” will provide us with the economies of scales for tourism development, allowing all participating countries to benefit from the “win-win” situation. In this sense, Cambodia has done its best so that we could reach an ASEAN Framework Agreement on Tourism (T-ASEAN).In preparation for such developments, I urge the Ministry of Tourism to work closely with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction, as well as with relevant ministries, provincial and municipal authorities to develop the entertainment sector and to improve services to cater for tourists.
Attention should be given to developing measures to promote the protection of the environment and our cultural heritage according to the concept of “sustainable tourism development”. The most crucial issue is to work in partnership with the private sector to implement all action plan related to tourism sector development. The RGC recognizes that our vision, policy, plan and projects cannot be successfully implemented if there is no active participation of the private sector.
I wish to sincerely commend once again and highly appreciate this valuable and timely contribution of Pansea Hotels and Resorts to the development of tourism and hospitality industry in the Kingdom of Cambodia through the investment in the Pansea Angkor Hotel. I wish to deeply thank all relevant authorities and the people from all walks of lives for their active support for this sector. I appeal to all government agencies and each and every Cambodian to continue to support and further develop the tourism sector.On behalf of the Royal Government and on my own behalf, I am glad to wish all tourist companies and operators in Cambodia a successful future and prosperity. I would like to extend to all of you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, with the five gems of Buddha’s wishes. I wish Pansea Hotels and Resorts, Mr. Robert Molinari and his colleagues a big success in their business.
May I officially announce the inauguration of the Pansea Angkor Hotel. Thank you for your attention.