Battambang, Kampot and Kratie will be the centre of a new promotion campaign by the Ministry of Tourism to highlight the colonial and historical heritage of the three places, which give them a unique appeal in the country.
To relieve the three destinations of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville which attract some 80% of all foreign arrivals to the Kingdom, Cambodia Minister of Tourism in cooperation with the French Development Agency (Agence Francaise de Developpement, AFD).
Due to their strong historic Khmer and French colonial buildings, the three provincial capitals are now considered mature enough to attract visitors by being promoted as second-tier destinations. Only in Battambang, the AFD and the Ministry recorded some 800 buildings offering a historical interest. The smaller city of Kampot has some 300 historical structures while Kratie has a bit less but is worth a visit as it is the only historical town to be located along the Mekong River.
Cambodia Ministrer of Tourism Dr Thong Khon agreed on a plan proposed in early August by AFD country director Philippe Steinmetz. The initiative is dubbed “The Inclusive City”.
Still according to the Phnom Penh Post, the ministry’s spokesman Top Sopheak said the AFD intends to help with the maintenance, repair and preservation of the towns’ old buildings and turn them into “inclusive” tourist cities, with all development activities set to be carried out with the consideration of the residents’ rights and benefits.
“We hope that through the initiative, Cambodia will be able to build and strengthen its tourism sector to the next level, especially with tourists from Europe,” he indicated to the newspaper. The Ministry of Tourism is now working in coordination with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts as well as Unesco to develop the three towns to be strong cultural and heritage tourism destinations. A couple of years ago, Cambodia already presented the three cities to UNESCO to a temptative listing on the World Heritage List. UNESCO so far did not accept the request.
When the towns are more organised, they will not only attract more visitors, but will also keep them there longer, added the Ministry spokesman.