Travel agencies from Nepal and Cambodia gathered yesterday in Phnom Penh to discuss partnership opportunities and ways of enhancing the flow of tourists between the countries.
Speaking at this year’s Nepal Evening – attended by 13 tour operators from Nepal – Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the event will strengthen ties between Cambodia and Nepal, particularly in tourism.
“This is a great platform to exchange information on tourism products and on the culture and tourism markets in both countries,” she said.
Ms Sivlin said the flow of tourists between the countries grows every year, adding that most are interested in religious and historical sites.
She urged airlines to consider creating a direct route between the countries to boost tourism numbers.
Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, secretary at the Ministry of Culture in Nepal, lamented that people wishing to travel between the countries must transit in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Hanoi due to a lack of a direct flight.
He said that his ministry is working to remedy this, adding that the establishment of a direct air connection between Kathmandu and Phnom Penh is in line with his government’s tourism strategy.
Mr Upadhyaya said bilateral relations are strong as demonstrated by recent state visits of the prime ministers to the other country. Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Nepal, and last month Nepali premier Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli was in Cambodia.
Mr Upadhyaya cited religious reasons for Nepal’s importance to the Cambodian tourism industry.
“I would like to emphasise that Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha and that most Cambodians are Buddhist. You can see that it is a great idea to work together to promote our tourism markets,” Mr Upadhyaya said.
So Lina, deputy director general of Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry, said the ministry will continue to support the work of the Nepal Tourism Board and other private sector associations to attract more Nepali tourists to the Kingdom.
“We are excited today to exchange ideas and experiences with our counterparts from Nepal. It is a great day for Cambodian tour operators and travel agents,” Ms Lina added.
According to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, 2.4 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia during the first four months of the year, an increase of 11 percent over the same period last year. 1,207 of those visitors came from South Asia.