Friday, October 9, 2009

Address at the "Inauguration of the New Office of the Ministry of Tourism"

Phnom Penh, 28 September 2009

- Your Venerable Monks,

- Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,

Today, my wife and I have a great honor and pleasure to be here in the Inauguration Ceremony of the New Office of the Ministry of Tourism. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to commend the management and officials of the Ministry of Tourism for their efforts and close cooperation with the Phnom Penh Municipality to construct this building which is being inaugurated while we are celebrating the World Tourism Day on 27 September.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to commend the Ministry of Tourism for its achievements, especially while the tourism industry is adversely affected by the global financial crisis, political instability in neighboring countries as well as H1N1 pandemic. These achievements indeed stem from our joint efforts, especially from the management and officials of the Ministry of Tourism who are firmly committed to the development of national tourism, reflecting the unflinching support of the Rectangular Strategy – Phase II. According to the report delivered by H.E. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, I think the construction of the new office has been made possible by the close cooperation between relevant institutions, especially the Phnom Penh Municipality that has striven to resolve land disputes and other problems to pave the way for the construction of this building on time, which has been completed before the World Tourism Day on 27 September.

I think this office will become a historic building in Phnom Penh city and help enhance the efficiency of administrative work of the Ministry of Tourism to develop the national tourism to take part in socio-economic development and promote the people’s welfare. Cambodia’s tourism sector has been adversely impacted by the global financial and economic crisis, causing the decline of inbound tourists in late 2008 and during the first six months in 2009. The crisis has posed a risk to Cambodia’s financial and economic viability as the source of revenue and number of inbound tourists decline.

To respond, the Royal Government of Cambodia has put the focus on strengthening and expanding the tourism sector in the short term, medium and long term by ensuring peace, political stability, social order, safety of tourists, continued restoration and construction of infrastructure, enhancement of the legal framework and institutional capacity, human resources development, and diversification of tourist markets and products.

To promote the tourism sector in the face of global financial and economic crisis, I have instructed the Steering Committee on Private Sector Development to organize meeting with the private sector and development partners to monitor and assess the development of tourism industry in order to propose practical measures to address the problems. During closing stock-taking ceremony of achievement in 2008 and 1rst semester of 2009 and direction setting for 2nd semester of 2009 and 2010, I had provided further recommendations related to market research and advertisement, visa, transportation, strengthening development and improving environment of key tourist sites and human resources development in the tourism sectors.

Through implementing recommendations that I laid out, coupled with recovering global economy from crisis, at the present we observe that number of tourists has risen remarkably from June, July and August of 2009, and for the last 8 months number of tourists increased 1.3%, and we hope that in 2009 the number of tourists coming to Cambodia will surge between 2% to 3%. At the same time, we are making effort to develop tourism sector by organizing tourism, cultural, sport and religious events in 2009 and 2010 such as Ambassador Friendship Open of ASEAN+3, +India + Australia which is going to take place 14-16 November 2009, Johnnie Walker Cambodia Open 2009 which is an international Asia competition to be held from 16th to 22nd November 2009, International Semi-Marathon Competition which to be scheduled on 5th December 2009, Tri-Athlon of Swimming, Cycling and Running in February 2010, Civilization and Visual Art Reading Ceremony in April 2010, which is a big tourism religious event and hosting the next ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2011.

Along with, I contend that launching direct flight from the Philippines to Cambodia in early 2010, additional Bangkok-Siem Reap flights, Visa exemption between Cambodia and Thailand, adopting single visa policy and restoring of Poi Pet-Siem Reap link of national road No.6, national road 67 and 68 which are key supporting infrastructures to tourism will bring Cambodia huge increase in number of tourists.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal all relevant competence forces who are stationed at all border checkpoint to better facilitate journey and transportation of tourists, especially those are standing by at Poi-Pet international check point. Obviously, past experience indicates that easing journey and transportation by land are very important to attract more tourists from countries of ASEAN, ASEAN+3 and Europe during crisis period.At the occasion of the 30th World Tourism under the theme called Tourism: Celebrating Diversity, which will give focus to development of eco-tourism, community tourism, rural tourism, agro-tourism and religious tourism, and is going smoothly, Cambodia is truly capable to develop these kinds of tourism products to fill the need of tourists. At the same time, Cambodia is campaigning “Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” and clean city, clean resort and good service moment, because if we well manage our tourist cities and provide quality service, security, safety and order, Cambodia will become every good and attractive tourist destination in the region.

On the other hand, Cambodia has been building and reconstructing underpinning infrastructures such road, clean water, electricity, transportation network and telecommunication network which are installed nationwide. Therefore, these fundamental physical infrastructures definitely support Cambodian tourism sector, and the most important things are to have good tourism strategic development plan, to develop more skilled and professional human resources, so that our tourism sector will become more competitive in the region.

Taking the occasion of 30th World Tourism I would like to appeal to all people, all ministries/agencies, authority concerned, private sectors, national and international non-governmental organizations to keep supporting and taking part in developing Cambodian tourism, and in actively and responsibly preserving environment, raising quality of tourism products, maintaining security, order and safety for tourists by keeping smiling and welcoming tradition of our people and by improving service of hospitality and welcoming tourist with warmest manner. While all the people all over the world are celebrating World Tourism Day I would like to welcome all tourists from all over the world to Cambodia.

Before ending, I would like to request officials in all levels of the Ministry of Tourism to fulfill their duties and obligation with high responsibility, spirit of professionalism, morality, and loyalty as well-performed discipline and high commitment at work to ensure effectiveness and efficiency as well as achieving additional achievements.

At this end, with the official inauguration of the new office of the Ministry of Tourism, I would like to wish venerable monks, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international distinguished guests the four gems of Buddhist blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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