The ancient province of Siem Reap and China’s autonomous region of Macau have reached a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build a sister city relationship to promote tourists and trade.
The agreement was made between Siem Reap governor Khim Bunsong and Chui Sai On, chief executive of the Macau Special Administrative Region at the province on Tuesday.
Mr Bunsong said the signing on the MoU proved the close relationship between leaders of the two countries to promote trade, investment and tourists from China into Cambodia.
“This MoU is very important for the development of Cambodia,” he said.
“Through a memorandum of understanding on sisterhood ties between Siem Reap and the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, the amount of Chinese tourists and trade partners will increase because Macau is a land of tourists and investors.”
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, said the MoU would add momentum in building the relationship between Siem Reap and Macau.
However, he said Macau was the world’s best-known casino zone, and suggested that the government would not allow any casino to open in Siem Reap.
“It is good to build up such sister or brother city relationship because they can promote Siem Reap so it can attract more tourists as well as boost investment from China into the province.
“But we don’t encourage any gaming industry in Siem Reap which is a world heritage place and the greatest attraction for tourists.”
“Anyway, I do foresee that with the MoU we will have more investment flow from China into the tourism industry in the province very soon and I do hope that Macau will promote Siem Reap as a tourism package to tourists gambling in Macau.”
Mr Bunsong had proposed to Mr Chui trade exchanges and promotion of tourism, agriculture, education, infrastructure, and social and economic development through investment projects and direct connections between Macau and Siem Reap.
He added that Siem Reap had 23 sister-city relationships with provinces and cities in China.
“As a result, these relationships have brought new development, with 12 airline companies having direct flights from China to Siem Reap with 12-15 flights per day, encouraging more and more tourists, especially Chinese tourists here.”
According to Siem Reap provincial tourism data, in 2017, the province welcomed more than 5.5 million national and international tourists, an increase of 9.93 percent in a year.
Chinese tourists accounted for 910,107 visitors.
In January and February of this year, Siem Reap received 852,276 visitors, of whom 539,054 were foreign.
Chinese tourists numbered 231,811 making China the leading source of tourists to the province.
This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.