Cambodia To Commence Annual Travel Mart

Cambodia is planning to start its own annual travel mart possibly as early as 2014 according to ministry of tourism officials, Thursday.


Ministry of Tourism, marketing and promotion office chief in charge of ASEAN markets, Prak Vuth, who was attending the Thailand Travel Mart, said the ministry was studying options.

“The event will have to be annual, a trade show for international tour operators…We were thinking to hold it end of this year but that is not be possible because we have the sea festival organize too.”

He said the focus of a mart would concentrate on promoting just Cambodia to international trade visitors, unlike Thailand’s TTM and Vietnam’s ITE that seek to establish regional platforms as gateway events.

Pacific Asia Travel Association will host its annual travel mart in Siem Reap in September 2014, the first time a major trade show has been hosted in the World Heritage town.

Siem Reap is the main centre of tourism for Cambodia because of its ancient temples. Around half of the visitors to the country will visit Angkor Wat. But the country really needs to shed light on other areas to spread the economic benefits of tourism.

Most of the country’s tourism earnings flow into the wallets of a few investors, government, military officials and society’s elitist old wealth families. Very few of the tourism dollars filter through to community coffers.

However, there are some non-government organizations and concerned government officials who are attempting to address the imbalance in tourism and a failure to spread tourism dollars through an economy dominated by agriculture.

Mr Prak Vuthy noted that beyond Siem Reap, Sihanoukville was the most likely place to develop tourism. The seaside town already has an international airport but it serves just a few domestic flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. There are plenty of hotels in the four to three-star categories and even a casino as well as deep sea port.

“The main clients at the beach resorts are Scandinavians. We would like to attract more tourists from Russia. We have been trying to get air links from Russia, hopefully scheduled services, not just charter flights,” he said.

The government has plans to develop an airport at Kampong Chnang which is about 60 km from Phnom Penh which could open as early as 2020 and be the new international airport for the capital.

The northeast which is a designated area for ecotourism, due to its rich natural assets – mountains and rivers – needs an airport to serve tourism and economic growth, but that is on the back burner.

Sihanoukville hosts a sea festival and in the northeast along the MekongRiver a river festival is under consideration. The two festivals will run alternate years.

This year the Ministry of Tourism expects tourist arrivals to reach 4 million, up from 3.5 million in 2012. It projects 7 million visits by 2020.

At the present market share ratio, 4 million of those visits would go to Siem Reap and the balance through Phnom Penh the capital.

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