-Your Venerable Monks,
-Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am greatly delighted to join with Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen in this opening ceremony of Shoka Angkor Hotel. This indeed represents another new achievement in term of basic facilities for tourism services in Siem Reap province.
So far, most five-star hotels existed here and in Phnom Penh have been invested mostly by foreign investment companies. However, we have today the Sokha Angkor Hotel, which is considered a five-star hotel and invested by the local Sokha Hotel Company. This can be our pride as a result of joint efforts between national businessmen and the local authority, related ministries and institutions, especially the Ministry of Tourism. Indeed, this achievement represents another important historical event which contributes to the development of tourism sector in Siem Reap.
Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere compliment and appreciation to Neak Oknha Sok Kong, the Director General of Sokha Hotel Company, who has invested in this five-star hotel in Siem Reap after the one built in Sihanoukville. May I wish Neak Oknha Sok Kong and all his associates happiness and success in the business.
In fact, Siem Reap is a huge tourist destination where recently many foreign tourists from all over the world visited. The latest developments have shown that tourism sector has brought about important economic benefits to the country by providing a lot of employments for the local people. The tourism sector over here not only provides jobs for the locals but it also attract citizens from all over the country to come here, from nearby or far away, to work in tourism-related services and businesses.
Almost all the families here are employed directly in the tourism services, apart from that there have been thousands of construction workers doing their jobs everyday. Currently, we are cooperating with JICA in the preparation of a development master plan for the city. We now have a conflicting view on whether we should attract more tourists or protect this tourism site by having a sustainable management and development plan. Since Angkor temples represent not only an undisputed and invaluable great wonder which cannot be built by anyone else except Cambodian people, but also have an infinite value to all our mankind, thus, it is not simply a personal duty of any particular authority to protect it, but it is our common duty and the duty of the whole world including tourists themselves.
The hotel that we are celebrating its opening ceremony today will spread a positive effect on tourism sector which is currently absorbing the great force of growth on the land of our Angkor, Siem Reap. Taking this opportunity, I would like to ask the Ministry of Tourism to closely cooperate with related ministries and institutions as well as provincial authority in order to curb more forces of development in the sector that attract and provide appropriate services for tourists, especially, we must be prepared in order to protect our environment, culture, and nature “A Sustainable Development of Tourism Sector”. At the same time, it is critical for us to try and effectively control the quality of the goods and services that have been distributed into the markets in order to attract and enhance more inflows of tourists.
The Royal Government’s strategy in the tourism sector both in the present time and future, is to promote and develop roads and bridges infrastructure, airports, ports and many methods of physical facilities including, the supply and distribution system of water and electricity as well as transportation network, hotel services, restaurants, and the training of tour-guides. These are the basic foundations and important factors in order to transform those respective potentials and superiors in the country as a whole and party in Siem Reap into reality, especially by transforming from “Natural Tourism” to “Man-made Tourism” which depends mainly on processing and services.
It is clear that tourism is a competitive industry. It generates national revenue, employment, development of infrastructure, and contributes to improving livelihood and helps reducing the poverty.
In the world, 2/3 of the countries regard tourism as one of the five priorities and 1/3 of the countries consider it as the first priority to generate revenue. The area provides 8% of total employments: among 12 labors, one serves in tourism and 33-50% of internet users related to tourism.
In 2004, the world accomodated 763 millions of tourists, increasing up to 10% compared to 2003 with 694 million of tourism and earned 622 thousands of millions of dollars.
According to the Tourism Ministry’s Reports, tourist arrival increased annually from 30 to 35% and nearly 2 millions of tourists will be expected to visit Cambodia by 2010. This does not count for local tourists which are on increase from day to day. This is the dividends of peace, “win-win” policy and political stability, thanks to good cooperation between CPP and FUNCIPEC, especially, myself and Prince Norodom Ranariddh and security and development of infrastructure served for tourism. In this spirit, we can say that the number and quality of our hotels are now sufficient and recognizable here. At the same time, we also provide good service to tourists.
However, the obtained results is the first basic step we need to proceed, we still have much work to be done here. Importantly, our tasks are sustainable development and more national revenue generation and job creations. In deed, we have to do everything to have tourists stay longer and spend much here, not just visiting Angkor, but what services we can provide in Angkor and in Siem Reap to generate revenues and day/night shift jobs as following:
- Providing services for food, souvenir objects, places for tourists to draw picture and elephant tour.
- In the town, there must be huge hall used for organizing ceremonies, night markets,24/24 hours legal entertainment places.
- Organizing multi-destination tours around the area: only Tonle Sap can attract tourists for its landscape. Today, at least 600 tourists take boat tour. Now, we can build big boats that could provide food to tourists here.
- Expanding tour to Boeng Mealea, Koh Khe, Kou len, Kbal Spean resort, in the future, we can proceed to Preah Vihea and Ang Long Veng.
- According to Tourism Ministry late Reports, tourists rise from 1700 to 1800 per day. This could be estimated that recent passenger station can not support tourists. We do not include flying from other huge destinations. Siem Reap Air Port, there fore, would have new international passenger terminals in the future.
- We will link the area to seaside and vice versa, then to North-east and vice versa.
- Sieam Reap-Poi Pet national road 6 has started its construction under 3-year contract, but can be completed ahead of time. We hope that as the road is finished, there will be many tourists visiting here.
In deed, the “open sky policy” reflects its righteous vision on marketing and tourist attraction. It changes the image of Cambodia from what has been known as killing field, war land and mine-rich field to Cambodia with peace, political stability, full-security and friendly. When arriving and visiting Angkor temple ones can never get tired of the breathtaking view of it. There are some tourists who have been visiting Angkor Wat 8 times already, but never one time do they miss visiting Angkor temple; they tirelessly climbed up until they reach the top.
Through an open policy, Siem Reap has become a starting point for visiting Cambodia after having visited Phnom Penh, beaches and the Northeast region. The Royal Government has been promoting direct flights to Siem Reap and also encouraging direct flights to Phnom Penh, as a mean of increasing the numbers of tourist visiting Phnom Penh, seeing its beauty and sight-seeing along the Mekong bank because Phnom Penh is a capital city of Cambodia. Meanwhile, The Royal Government has been promoting the establishment of KONG KANG airport in Sihanouk Ville because port and airport development is the key factor. We have already developed our port, but we have not yet developed the airport. If the airport is established, the numbers of cruise ship will increase, because after visiting the beach the tourists would link their visits to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or other tourist destinations in the Northeast region such as the place along the Mekong where there are living seals.
At the same time, in the effort of cooperation framework between the five countries in the region including Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar (ACMECS), the Royal Government has adopted a “Single Visa” approach between Cambodia and Thailand, which is the key to the facilitation of travel procedures as a role model in the region and the possible implementation between Cambodia-Vietnam, Cambodia-Malaysia, Cambodia-Singapore in the future.
We are so proud of our land that we have the responsibility to maintain and develop. Therefore, there must be good cooperation for sustainable development and quality services at every city and tourist destination. Tourism Ministry has to be the core character of technical policy and profession. Meanwhile, Tourism Ministry has to cooperate with the private sector in order to further promote the quality of tourism services for the better.
In closing, I would like to appeal everyone, including the public sector, private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations, development partners and people from all walks of life to strongly support and develop tourism in Cambodia. We must develop Cambodia into a vital tourism destination in the region as well as an attractive spot in the world.
Finally, may I wish Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the five gems of Buddhist blessing. May I now announce the opening of the Sokha Angkor Hotel to provide the service for tourists from now on.