Excellency Mr.Galip Gur, President of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club
Excellencies Tourism Ministers of CLMV,
Distinguished Delegations, National and International Guests!
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to attend the opening of the 9th Congress of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club under the theme of “Blue Sea, Green City”, CLMV Tourism Ministers Meeting and the GMS Tourism Working Group Meeting.
At the outset, on behalf the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to thank H.E. Mr. GalipGur, the president of the World’s Most Beautify Bays Club and all members of the club, tourism Ministers of CLMV countries and the tourism working group of GMS as well as distinguished national and international guests who participate in this important meeting. Your participation will help strengthen the solidarity and joint commitment among countries in order to achieve common goals of the tourism development.
Taking this opportunity, I would also like to thank the board and members of the club for supporting Cambodian beaches and admitting Cambodian beaches as a full member of the club. In fact, this full membership in the club represents a turning point of the gradually improved Cambodia’s beach in terms of socio-economic development, tourism, urbanization and environment which are key determinants for the international recognition of the Cambodia’s 450Km coastline extending over four provinces, viz. Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Kampot and Kep provinces.
Overall, this recognition enables the Cambodian coastline to play an important role as the second pole for attracting investment to promote economic growth after Phnom Penh. In addition, Cambodian coastline has been considered as not only an attractive and competitive nature tourism destination in Cambodia and the region, but also a major tourism destination after the historic site of Angkor and Phnom Penh city. In this connection, I highly appreciate the investment and compliance with environmental requirements of all companies in the tourism sector, reflecting the private sector’s role as “real locomotive of economic growth” and critical contribution to socio-economic development. In particular, there has been a rapid growth of urbanization and construction such as hotel, guesthouse, restaurant, resort etc. along beach zones. The growth has not only helped improve the living standard of the people along the coastline, but has also underpinned growth of other sectors.
Overall, investment in tourism sector has significantly increased in provinces along the coastline, for instance the investment of the Thansur Bokor resort that has become an important tourist magnet in the Kingdom of Cambodia and a hub linked to delta area of Vietnam and southeast area of Thailand with high economic potential. This distinguishing characteristic has enabled the four provinces along the coastline to integrate into the region as the four provinces are connected by ASEAN Highway No. 123 and can be connected to Phnom Penh by ASEAN Highway No. 11, creating the south economic corridor with high economic potential.
Given that potential, in the first 10 months of 2013, the number of international tourists visiting the coastal area reached 420,000, an increase of 84% compared to the same period in 2012. Cambodia’s coastal region is projected to welcome 1 million and 2 million foreign visitors in 2015 and 2020 respectively. In this regard, we are highly optimistic that the number of tourist visiting coastal area will further increase once more domestic and regional flights to coastal area have been opened because air transport plays a vital role in the development of tourism industry, along with improved inland and waterway connectivity between Cambodia’s coastal region and the south of Vietnam and Thailand. This is a great opportunity of this member of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Cub and integration in ASEAN. This will help promote investment and private sector development and reap Cambodia’s tourism competitive advantage in the region and the globe.
Having mentioned above, we must not ignore the pre-requisites that enable these progresses, including peace, political stability, security, safety and order in society, i.e. a combination of enabling factors for sustained development in the long term. Along with these opportunities and achievements, it is also necessary to step up the protection and conservation of natural resource in the coastal area as well as cultural heritage with strong sense of responsibility to live up to its reputation “Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” and “Cambodia’s Bay: Rising Star of the Southwest”. We need to act now as Cambodia as well as the whole world can face a number of challenges, such as development of infrastructure along the coasts, all kinds of construction along the coasts and satellite areas, solid and liquid waste, water usage, energy and other activities that could affect underwater resource and management of related services, especially some tourism activities that do not comply with environmental requirements.
In this regard, the Royal Government of Cambodia will further strive to protect and conserve the environment and natural resources based on the principle of “Development for Conservation, Conservation for Development”. In this connection, I fully support the theme of this Congress, “Blue Sea, Green City”. In addition, I further encourage the “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service” campaign which focuses on building green cities, green areas, and strict management of waste, energy and water usage, and better and competitive service quality.
I would like to raise some recommendations to contribute to the Congress of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club, CLMV Tourism Ministers’ Meeting, GMS Tourism Technical Working Group Meeting and for the management and development of Cambodian coastal areas in a sustainable, effective and responsible manner as follows:
First– I think that strengthening of partnership is the foundation of development in this modern era. Therefore, the Ministry of Tourism and National Committee for the Management and Development of Cambodian Beach Areas need to collaborate with relevant ministries and institutions to explore the possibility to establish a Permanent Join Forum by following the model of ICC-Angkor for managing coastal areas based on the four principles: Public-People-Private-Partnership. It is a joint forum that gathers and enables all stakeholders to “Jointly Think and Jointly Act with Collective Responsibility” through dialogues, recommendations, joint development of tourism sector as well as sustainable development of Cambodian coastal areas. In this spirit, I would like to request private sector, national and international organizations, development partners and stakeholders to join the Royal Government of Cambodia in producing and developing joint tourism products, organizing joint tours, developing joint cruise tourism and so on. In addition, we must create mechanisms for joint development of coastal tourist destinations based on the public-private partnership, joint development of new tourism products, joint enhancement of service quality in the cause of clean beaches to up to the reputation: “Cambodia’s Bay: Rising Start of the Southwest”. At regional level, I encourage dialogue, within both CLMV and GSM frameworks, to strengthen inter-regional cooperation on inland, waterway and air connectivity, facilitation of movement, and joint development of coastal tourism products.
Second – Under regional frameworks, I encourage the joint development of tourism products, joint strengthening and promotion of tourism services as well as promotion of connectivity within the Southern corridor that connect key tourism destinations in region, viz. the Southeast of Thailand, Southwest of Cambodia and the South of Vietnam, through ASEAN Highway 123 and with other ASEAN countries through cruise lines. In this sprit, I would like to request the CLMV Ministers of Tourism to discuss the facilitation of passage processing and procedures, especially for tourists aiming to visit coastal areas in the three countries, viz. Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Third – The Ministry of Tourism needs to collaborate with relevant ministries and institutions to further promote the reputation of Cambodia’s Bay on the international stage. Taking this opportunity, I would like to request the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club to consider sharing development and conservation experiences among the members and increase advertisement at international level.
Fourth – The National Committee on the Management and Development of Cambodian Beach Areas needs to collaborate with relevant ministries and institutions to prepare zoning on land usage in Cambodia’s Coastal Areas in order to ensure all kinds of construction along the coastline comply with environmental standards and urban planning, and to preserve sea areas and sandy beaches open for the public use. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism needs to develop a strategic paper for sustainable tourism development along Cambodia’s Coastal Areas as soon as possible that will serve as a guiding paper for investment along Cambodia’s Coastal Area.
Fifth – In order to ensure sustainable development of cities in Cambodia’s Coastal Areas that are in line with the concept of clean and green, I would like to request the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Environment, and National Committee for Clean City Assessment to collaborate with authorities in provinces along the coastline to step the management of solid and liquid wastes, especially the management of plastic bags through the implementation of 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle in order to ensure the achievement “Cambodia’s Bay: Clean Bay Without Plastic Bags Flying in the Air”. Moreover, we have to strengthen and ensure security and safety for tourists visiting beaches by speeding up the implementation of the Royal Government’s Prakas on “the establishment of Cambodian bay lifeguards” and roll it out across key Cambodian beaches.
Sixth – Today, I will launch a campaign called “Beach Cleaning” under the theme of “Love Blue Sea, Clean Sandy Bay” by organizing it on weekly, monthly and yearly basis in order to inspire greater participation from the public in cleaning the beaches through building awareness of the people and related stakeholders on the significance of the beach and set 11 July (the date that Cambodia is admitted to the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club) as the National Day for Beach Cleaning. In this spirit, I would like to request companies, enterprises, factories, national and international organizations, academic institutions, Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, and various associations to inspire students, youths and staff to participate in this program. I also request the Ministry of Tourism to prepare annual prizes for outstanding companies, enterprises and staff in beach cleaning contest recognized and provided by the Royal Government. In addition, I request the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Environment, National Committee for the Management and Development of Cambodian Beach to collaborate with other stakeholders to study the possibility of creating the Foundation for Preservation of Cambodia Beach.
Seventh – the Ministry of Tourism must also pay attention to the development of the emerging diving tourism and support projects relating to the development of this sector, for instance, the creation of the underwater park, in order to protect and preserve the bio-diversity resources, ensure the sustainability of the underwater ecosystem, contribute to development of tourism sector for the interest of people who are living on those natural resources by selecting the regions of Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sonleum and areas surrounding the O Tres Beach for the first phase of development. In this sense, I request the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Environment, the National Committee for the Management and Development of Cambodian Beach Areas to work with other stakeholders to prepare regulations on establishing and defining zones for underwater park.
Eighth – Tourism sector is one of the high priority sectors that contribute to the development of island countries that are rich in natural and cultural resources. In this connection, I request the Ministry of Tourism, National Committee for the Management and Development of Cambodian Beach Areas to work with related ministries-institutions in order to ensure the development of island investment projects approved by the Royal Government of Cambodia comply with master plans submitted to the Council for the Development of Cambodia and encourage development of the islands as large-scale ecotourism destinations. In addition, the development of islands must be equitable in order to make sure that the local people can benefit from this development. Furthermore, it is necessary to implement the “tiger skin” policy to ensure that development will not affect the settlement and livelihood of the local people.
Ninth – In order to respond to the rapid growth of tourists and enhance the quality of tourism services to live up to its reputation “Cambodia Beach: Rising Star in the Southwest”, the Ministry of Tourism should quickly set up vocational training program specializing in beach tourism. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the French Agency for Development for collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism in setting up this training school in the region of Cambodia beach.
I strongly believe that the 9th Congress of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club, CLMV Tourism Ministers’ Meeting and GMS Tourism Working Group Meeting will provide us with better views to be used as the basis for preparing regulatory framework to improve the management and development of the beach areas with a sense of responsibility. I look forward to “Bokor Declaration on Sustainable Beach Development” tomorrow. Cambodia will be more able to diversify its tourism products and increase dissemination on tourism of Cambodia beach, and participate actively under CLMV and GMS frameworks aimed to achieve the common vision of attracting 25 million international tourists to CLMV countries in 2015.
Finally, together with the Opening of 9th Congress of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club, CLMV Tourism Ministers’ Meeting and GMS Tourism Working Group Meeting, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen happiness and prosperity, and I look forward to the fruitful outcome of the meeting./.