During the 19th Government-Private Sector Forum (G-PSF) held at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 13, 2023, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet delivered a speech reaffirming the government’s commitment to the rehabilitation and development of the tourism sector.
Prime Minister Hun Manet emphasised the crucial role of tourism in providing employment opportunities for the Cambodian people and its significant contribution to the national economy. He acknowledged, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic had severely impacted the sector, and while some recovery has been observed, tourism has not yet reached its pre-pandemic levels, particularly in Siem Reap.
Addressing the challenges raised during recent meetings with the Ministry of Tourism and the private sector on November 6, 2023, the Prime Minister unveiled the ‘Visit Siem Reap 2024’ campaign, aimed at revitalising the tourism industry in Siem Reap.
Key Measures For Tourism In Cambodia
During his speech, the Prime Minister announced a number of key measures concerning the revitalisation of the tourism sector, including:
- Reorganising and establishing the Tourism Council, which will require the involvement of relevant public and private institutions. The Tourism Council will address daily challenges faced by the private sector, develop tourism plans and strategies, and foster effective collaboration.
- Developing specific action plans under the leadership of the Tourism Council to implement the ‘Visit Siem Reap 2024’ campaign by the end of 2023. These plans will address challenges across the tourism value chain in Siem Reap, including promotion, connecting flights between major tourist destinations, and creating an attractive and stimulating tourism environment in 2024. Clear responsibilities will be defined for both the public and private sectors, taking into account budget requirements, monitoring, and evaluation.
- Enhancing cooperation with relevant government mechanisms and institutions to address day-to-day business issues faced by the private sector. This includes: tour guide management and training; other tourism-related vocational training; sanitation and waste management; improvement of security at major tourist destinations, including the installation of security cameras; development of a new pricing strategy for domestic and foreign visitors; promotion through tourist maps and online advertising; infrastructure improvement; reduction of travel package commissions; and promotion of innovative processing.
The ‘Visit Siem Reap 2024’ Campaign
To support the organisation and promotion of ‘Visit Siem Reap 2024’, the Royal Government has decided to implement various measures, including:
- Introducing E-Arrival (electronic arrival) card forms from January 1, 2024, to streamline immigration, customs, and clearance processes;
- Establishing a hotline system for immediate complaints regarding immigration services;
- Installing new surveillance systems to monitor the work of immigration officers at key locations, starting with Siem Reap International Airport.
The scope of border cards will also be expanded to allow visitors to travel to Siem Reap from neighbouring countries, however, this will require negotiations and amendments to existing cross-border agreements. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Interior will work together to facilitate this process.
Additional measures to be implemented include:
- Facilitating financing for tour operators in Siem Reap through loan restructuring and a direct loan programme;
- Introducing tax incentives for tourism businesses;
- Waiving monetary penalties for the expiration of tour guide and interpreter licenses;
- Promoting direct flight connections between popular tourist destinations and Siem Reap.
The Prime Minister also emphasised the importance of flexible and attractive visa systems, improving Cambodia’s reputation, strengthening marketing and promotion efforts, promoting sustainable tourism practices, and enhancing the quality of tourism services.
To ensure the success of ‘Visit Siem Reap 2024’, close collaboration and regular consultations between the government, private sector, and local communities will be required. The Prime Minister assured that feedback mechanisms and monitoring and evaluation processes will be established to ensure the programme’s effectiveness, as well as to address any challenges that may arise.
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