Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cambodia Plans to Use Sports in Boosting Tourism

BY BUHT REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian government is putting continuously effort in increasing tourism in the country. The latest weapon in attracting international visitors is going to be sport events. Thong Khon, Minister for the Ministry of Tourism, announced this during his closing remarks at the General Assembly on the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) in Phnom Penh on September 9.

The Minister Thong Khon, who is also the Chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said that the government was preparing sport events, both national and international in order to promote Cambodia. Cambodian sports and athletes are going to be used to bring Cambodia under the international spotlight. “The tourism is one of Cambodia’s four pillars in generating income and development in Cambodia,” he said. Sport is the delegation of peace in the world. They both are linked together and are potential sources in developing and reducing the poverty in Cambodia.”

Thong Khon said his Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport has planned to host several events in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap this year. The organized events include: international half-marathon competitions, international triathlon and Kun Khmer Boxing competitions, the 3rd Johny Walker Cambodia Open Championship, Water festival among others. All these events will take place before the end of this year, he added.

The Minister continued to say that besides organizing sport events, the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia also planned to send Cambodian sport teams abroad to join international sports competitions including the Asian Games, the Olympic Games and the SEA this year as well as in the future. “I hope that through these sports events we can promote our country and attract more international tourists to visit our country and through this, we will be able to generate jobs for Cambodians and to develop the Kingdom of Cambodia in the future,” he said.

The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia is trying to find financial supports from private sponsors in order to support the athletes and coaches, he said, adding that NOCC also planned to build capacity by providing training for athletes, coaches, and referees so they are able to improve their techniques and experiences for future competitions.

Relating to tourism promotion in Cambodia, Thong Khon said that besides sports events, his ministry will continue to market and publish Cambodian tourism in the region as well as in the world. He added that his ministry will also prepare eco-tourism, generate and develop the based-tourism communities, facilitate passengers’ traveling, reduce prices of tourist packages, and strengthening security and safety for foreign tourists.

In the line of the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ campaign, the will organize a yearly competition titled “Clean City, Attractive Places, and Good Services,” for cities and provinces. The winning cities or provinces will receive an award from the Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen.

Sokun Theara, Operation Manager of the Cambodia Express Tour Ltd, which is a joint Cambodian-Japanese tourist company created in 1993, applauded the Ministry of Tourism’s plans. He said that Cambodia has a lot of potential natural sources which can be used and developed in promoting local and foreign tourism. “I totally agreed with our Tourism Minister’s ideas in promoting tourism in Cambodia,” he said. “I think that if the government is able to prepare and develop all eco-tourism zones, national resources and ancient temples, and organize more sport events, they can attract more international tourists to visit our country in the future.”

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