Cambodia calls for strong revival in GMS tourism

Cambodia called for stronger regional cooperation and the revival of tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

The GMS includes Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Talking at the Mekong Tourism Forum 2023, which concluded yesterday at the Independence Hotel in Sihanoukville, Tith Chantha, Permanent Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism, requested all GMS governments to formulate policies, institutes, professionals, and private and public sectors to continue strengthening regional cooperation to revive GMS tourism.

“The forum actively discussed issues and trends in tourism recovery with local and international tourism experts, such as the development of local food production networks and supply chains focusing on safety and hygiene. As smart tourism destinations, the promotion of human resources and gender equality in tourism plays an important role in paving the way for resilience,” Chantha said.

He also pointed out that the forum raised regional issues and solutions for cooperation on sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism development through the promotion of high-potential tourism destinations in GMS countries. “The GMS countries are world-class destinations for a prosperous and strong future for the people,” the permanent secretary said.

Chantha said that after the fruitful conclusion of the forum with a series of group discussions, it could be concluded that the forum took place in a friendly atmosphere with a spirit of solidarity, unity, friendship, and strong cooperation. “Without the active participation of government representatives, policymakers, professional institutes, relevant authorities, private and public stakeholders in the tourism industry, the results will not be satisfactory,” he said.

Chantha added that the forum under the theme ‘Rethinking for Resilience and Digitalization” sought opportunities to increase the resilience of the tourism sector by building a sustainable food system, promoting delivery, empowering women, accelerating digitalization, and improving the skills of the tourism workforce.

More than 200 international and local delegates participated in the event, hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, in collaboration with the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office with support from the Asian Development Bank.

In his opening remarks, Thong Khong, Minister of Tourism, said: “The key stakeholders from the public and private sectors gathering together today will create unique opportunities to spearhead innovative and collaborative frameworks for tourism recovery towards resilience in this post-Covid-19 era and bring back what we have lost in tourism.”

“Tourism is one of the priority sectors contributing to socio-economic development through job creation, poverty reduction, investment, infrastructure development, as well as the protection and conservation of cultural heritage and natural resources,” said Kouch Chamroeun, Governor of Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia.

A technical visit was arranged yesterday for delegates to explore the natural gems of the offshore island Koh Rong. The tour offered a chance for the delegates to enjoy the clear waters and participate in a community-based ecotourism program involving mangrove forest planting and beach cleaning activities at Prek Koang Kang Ecotourism Community.

“As the co-organizer of MTF, I am thrilled to see a great turnout for this event. We are excited to see the profile of MTF delegates evolving and expanding, with more participation from international organizations, development partners, women-focused organizations and, importantly, local communities, including the disabled, at the grassroots level. It is our role to foster inclusive growth in the tourism sector in the GMS region,” said Suvimol Thanasakakij, executive director, MTCO.

MTF 2024 will be held in Lijiang, China, next May.