Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry Unveils Plans to Attract More Tourists

The Ministry of Tourism has drawn up plans to breathe new life into tourist-centric Siem Reap in a bid to restimulate tourism and attract more international travelers to the province away from the temples.
Tourists in front of Angkor Wat on December 28, 2021. Picture: stringer
Tourists in front of Angkor Wat on December 28, 2021. Picture: stringer

A master plan to revive tourism in Siem Reap has been unveiled, with the post-pandemic recovery strategy aiming to develop innovative tourism products and quality services, and promote diversity, affordability, safety, and hospitality across the province, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said.

There are six top priority destinations, Khon said in a ceremony in Siem Reap on Monday. Promoting digital broadcasting, security, hygiene, and accelerating the construction of Siem Reap Angkor International Airport to increase storage capacity also form part of the tourism promotion strategy, Khon said.

Phnom Kulen National Park, Banteay Srei Protected Area, Angkor Heritage Site, Siem Reap City, Tonle Sap Lake, and the New Siem Reap tourism area, according to the Siem Reap Development Master Plan 2022-2023.

In Siem Reap, Chong Khneas (floating village) port will be upgraded to the standards of the tourist port at the Tonle Sap Lake. Also, included in the ministry’s development plan is the new Siem Reap tourism area. Key to the development of smart tourism cities and destinations are improved telecommunication and internet services in Siem Reap, Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister of Economy and Finance, said at the same ceremony.

“All ministries, institutions, and stakeholders have a high responsibility to participate in this process to implement the action plan of the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan 2022-2023”, said Pornmoniroth.

Chhay Sivlin, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said that Siem Reap's master plan is beneficial for tourism if more services are developed to attract international visitors. She added more attractions and enhanced services will also encourage tourists to extend their stay and bring more income for local vendors.

“The master plan for the development of Siem Reap is good for tourism if we have the potential of all these areas. But if we do not develop, we cannot attract many more tourists. Tourists want to see more than just the temples, they want to see something else as well,” Sivlin said.

She explained that the global Covid-19 pandemic devastated the country’s tourism sector, with Siem Reap heavily reliant on tourism. In spite of Cambodia now welcoming foreign travelers across its borders, figures remain low - and Siem Reap has been the hardest hit by the crisis, despite a growth in domestic tourists.

“Siem Reap is the province that attracts the most tourists, so if the crisis hits Siem Reap it will be the most adversely affected. Domestic tourism is not yet fully managed as most of those services are geared toward foreigners. The country still has a limited number of tourists despite its full opening,” said the CATA president.