Push to Promote Ecotourism

Two Cambodian ecotourism communities have scooped the ASEAN Ecotourism Standard Award as a major drive to promote the country’s ecotourism gets underway
Koh Han ecotourism community in Stung Treng province. Kiripost via Seng Sothea
Koh Han ecotourism community in Stung Treng province. Kiripost via Seng Sothea

The Minister of Tourism is calling on tour operators to push the Kingdom’s ecotourism communities to boost the sector as two ecotourism destinations receive the ASEAN Ecotourism Standard Award.

Thong Khon, the Minister of Tourism, has urged tour operators to increase the sale of tour packages to ecotourism communities in Cambodia to contribute to the development of ecotourism and community-based tourism.

His call comes after two ecotourism communities in Cambodia received the ASEAN Ecotourism Standard Award. They are Samros of Koh Han ecotourism community in Stung Treng province and Prey Thom Anlong Thom ecotourism community in Siem Reap province. The Minister also encouraged operators to promote these destinations to tourists.

Chuk Chumnor, Director of the Tourism Product Development Department, said that according to the assessment of ASEAN, these two ecotourism communities are striving to develop human resources, build local infrastructure, increase new tourism products, improve existing tourism products, and become more popular with tourists.

Tour operators will visit the communities with the Ministry of Tourism and other organizations from February 21 to 24. The goal is to arrange tour packages there and at five other ecotourism destinations to attract more national and international tourists.

They are Tangyu Waterfall Tourism Community, Datavik Tourism Community, and Chak Angre Waterfall Tourism Community in Phnom Tbeng Meanchey, Preah Vihear Province, as well as Koh Sam Sip Ecotourism Community in Kratie Province and Samros Koh Han Ecotourism Community in Stung Treng Province.

“Congratulations to the two Cambodian ecotourism communities for receiving the ASEAN Ecotourism Standards Award,” Khon said, recommending that the private sector, especially tour companies and operators, help integrate the five communities in visit packages, as well as promote them to tourists.

Chhay Sivlin, President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said the two communities deserve to receive the Ecotourism Standard Award because they have real ecotourism, natural wonders, and have built innovative infrastructure that meets ecotourism standards and services.

“They deserved to get it and to promote potential ecotourism in Cambodia. This award promotes ecotourism [and encourages] using its services, create tourism packages by tour agencies, and get tourists to explore more ecotourism in Cambodia.”

When buying ecotourism packages it brings communities benefits, such as creating jobs, conserving nature, and additional revenue sources.

“Profit beyond community income is due to the promotion of Cambodia’s natural areas to attract national and international visitors. Most guests do not want to develop more processing than relaxing with nature, and what we add is a tour package,” Sivlin said.

She said good service is key, with ecotourism communities having to adhere to standards, such as clean rooms, hygienic quality food, and a safe, secure environment. The community should also create entertainment activities to encourage visitors to share with friends.

“Travel agencies should support ecotourism since it generates significant tourists, helps everyone, makes it sustainable, and benefits the community while maintaining ecological protection,” Sivlin said.

Seng Sothea, a staff at Koh Han ecotourism community, expressed his pleasure at receiving an Ecotourism Standard Award after the Ministry evaluated it. The Koh Han ecotourism community was established six years ago after spotting the potential of a location with a variety of natural features, including birds, flooded forests, and the upper Mekong area.

"In the community, there are various services to meet the needs of tourists, we provide limited boat rides, and safety jackets, selling clean and quality food to guests​ who visited," Sothea told Kiripost.

Sim Bunthoeun, Country Director of Non-Timber Forest Products Organization (NTFP-EP) Cambodia, and Hanh Nguyen, Acting Mission Director of USAID, reiterated their dedication to helping the Upper Mekong and Phnom Tbeng Meanchey thrive as ecotourism destinations, according to a statement.