As the Cambodia Travel Mart (CTM) is opening its doors on Friday 17 until Sunday 19, heralding a new era for Cambodia tourism, the hosting city of Siem Reap could largely benefit from the event. Not only as the CTM is due to bring over 400 professionals of tourism in town but also in terms of the city image and how to improve it.
Siem Reap is not only the gateway to the famous temples of Angkor Wat. It is also turning increasingly as a destination on its own, for the best and the worst. For the best, the city has its share of deluxe and first class hotels. Luxury properties such as the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, the Amansara Resort, the Sofitel, the Courtyard by Marriott or the Park Hyatt are present in town. Not bad for a city of only 60,000 inhabitants! It has also a range of boutique hotels, trendy or more traditional such as the Angkor Village, the FCC hotel or Siddharta Hotel. The range of fine accommodations is indeed excellent. They are also many good handicraft shops of high quality offering authentic Khmer products, ranging from Artisans d’Angkor to Senteurs d’Angkor just to name some of the most famous. They are also tradiitonal classical dance showsss, fine restaurants, trendy bars.
However the negative side of Siem Reap is the loss of the cultural value of the city. Being next to Angkor Wat should have turned the city into a heaven of art and culture. Siem Reap receives some 4.5 million travellers a year -domestic and international. And many are visiting the city more for its entertainment venues than for its cultural assets.
Siem Reap now wants to upgrade itself as a tourist sophisticated city. And it starts with the improvement and cleanliness of public and private infrastructure as well as services. The government has identified seven key areas that it wants to see improved in Siem Reap before the city is nominated to be a candidate in the 2018 Asean Clean Tourist City Contest.
The nomination is supported by Cambodia Minister of Tourism Thong Khon who believes that Siem Reap city had to improve the quality of its services for tourists and offer its best hospitality to them.
During a visit earlier this year, Thong Khon pointed out that Siem Reap needed to have more public toilets, gym zones, parks, green zones, parking lots, pedestrian ways, and an efficient waste management system before it could be considered as a candidate for the 2018 Asean Tourist City Contest. Municipal authorities need also to ban street vendors from non-designated areas such as pavements.
“These are the key basic factors to ensure the sustainability of tourism growth and to create a foundation for the integration of Cambodia into Asean,” he added. There is also a need to regulate the “Pub Street” near the Central Market. It has turned into Siem Reap most popular places for tourists. However, public order is still to be implemented as brawls regularly surface between intoxicated people.
“Through the launch of the Asean Clean Tourist City Standard, Asean member countries have determined to continue developing all tourist cities into clean, green, attractive and competitive cities with sustainable development,” explained the Minister to Cambodian media in September.
Siem Reap governor already started to implement the Minister’s recommendations. International buyers from the CTM will be able to judge and pass their comments either to the Minister, the Governor or lcaol and tourism authorities.Siem Reap needs now to strengthen its tourism assets and create an image whoich is better matching Angkor Temples and Cambodian sense of hospitality…