Cambodia is looking at adapting its tourism strategy by eventually offering free visa on arrivals to more countries. The move is likely to translate into a strong rise in arrivals however with a question: Is quantity the only mantra of a tourism policy, especially if proper infrastructure does not follow track?
Cambodia Tourism Minister, H.E. Dr Thong Khon announced during a meeting of the Cambodia Tourism Marketing and Promotion Board, a joint institution between the government and the private sector, that visa exemption is one of the options to attract new tourists into the country. The CTMPB is mulling out new strategies for promoting the country and attract more foreign visitors/ studying a new strategy to attract more foreign visitors to the Kingdom,
As President of the board, Dr. Thong Khon said that visa exemption for international tourists is one of the proposals that would be submitted to the government as a key point in increasing the Kingdom’s attractiveness. The implementation of such a measure would be done step by step. It could for example be implemented during special events such as festivals or for repeating guests.
Discussions over visa exemption fto more source markets regularly surfed out in recent years in Cambodia following the implementation of the measure in some of Cambodia ASEAN neighbours.
Another issue is to provide efficient infrastructure to bring travellers to new destinations, beyond the trio Siem Reap/Angkor-Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville and the coast. According to the Phnom Penh Post, the meeting looked at ways to develop tourism products along the Tonle Sap Lake as well as around Kulen mountain national park in the province of Siem Reap. Another issue is to better connect Sihanoukville by air to raise the profile of the town as a first-class international cruise destination.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Transport are also intensifying their efforts to get a direct flight from India to the Kingdom.
However, the biggest challenge for Cambodia tourism is to look qt quality rather than at quantity. This will mean that Cambodian authorities need to emerge from the attractive and easy task of getting only Chinese travellers to the country. Chinese arrivals grew last year by 67%, representing over 2 million arrivals = a share of almost of 33% of all arrivals. During the first quarter of 2019, Chinese arrivals jumped by another 35%; this translated into a share of 36.7% of all arrivals.
The meeting also raised some of the challenges and solutions that Cambodia could implement to attract tourists for visits and long-term stays.