Sunday, February 13, 2011

Address at the Official Opening of ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011 (ATF 2011)

Phnom Penh, January 18, 2011

- Excellencies Tourism Ministers of ASEAN, China, Japan, Korea, India and Russia,
- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Tour Operators, National and International Distinguished Guests!

It is my great honor and pleasures this evening to address the official opening of the 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum, under the important theme of “ASEAN: A World of Wonders and Diversity”.

I would like to express my warmest welcome with deepest appreciation to Excellencies Tourism Ministers, Tourism Delegatesand all Tour Operators who have come from all parts of ASEAN region and all over the world to participate in this tourism forum in the capital city of Phnom Penh, which is the heart of the Kingdom of Cambodia today.

This tourism forum is, in fact, a huge tourism and travel event of ASEAN region, which provides great opportunity for public and private stakeholders in tourism sector to gather and share opinion in preparing the strategic plan to attract more tourists to visit the ASEAN region. It should be noted that ASEAN is seen a captivating and highly competitive tourist destination for development, based on the uniqueness of its potentials and diversity of historical cultural relics and tremendous natural resources as well as the joint efforts in tourism development for the common interest of our ASEAN as a whole.

In actuality, ASEAN resumed tourism growth of approximately 10% in the year 2010, while the world has shown a sign of economic recovery. This result has clearly revealed the resilience of ASEAN economy, particularly intra-ASEAN tourism movement sharing up to 45% (more than 20 million people) of total tourist arrivals in ASEAN (approximately more than 65 million people) and have been playing vital role in accelerating intra-ASEAN economic activities.

I would like to highly appreciate the pivotal role of tourism sector which has effectively and efficiently contributed to promote regional needs and export, which is the factor to promote macro-economic growth, social development and poverty alleviation.Tourism is also considered as an effective tool toward solving the problems being faced by the world such as climate change, in which tourism industry causes least carbon emission (CO2). In this regard, sustainable tourism development is playing key role in ensuring development toward building green economy. Therefore, responsible community-based tourism development in locality such as natural tourism community, eco-tourism community, natural tourism, agro-tourism and rural tourism certainly contribute to the preservation and conservation of environment and bio-diversity as well as mitigating the global warming.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has launched and has thoroughly implemented the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II forGrowth, Employment, Efficiency and Equity, aiming for development in all sectors. As a result, Cambodia achieved economic growth at a remarkable rate, an average of 10.6% annually during 2003-2007. Particularly, 2010 was a good year for Cambodian economy with a significant growth of approximately 5.5%, attributive to the growth in tourism, agriculture and garment. The poverty line has subsequently decreased from 50% in 1990s to only 30% and 27.4% in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and is estimated to go down to 19.5% by 2015. Through this achievement, Cambodia was regarded by the United Nations as the top best 5 countries in the world to achieve greatest success in realizing the Millennium Development Goal by 2015. This success clearly reflects the effective implementation of the policies and strategies put out by the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially the implementation with high responsibility from all related stakeholders.

Along with that, while 21st Century is considered as “the Age of Travel & Tourism”, tourism is recognized as a stimulus tool in boosting economic growth and contributing to million-job creation and improving people’s livelihood. In this connection, the Royal Government of Cambodia has paid greater attention to and strongly supported the development of tourism sector, which is prioritized in the top 10 sectors in enhancing socio-economic development and poverty alleviation in the midst that rice productivity and export is considered as the white gold and tourism is acclaimed as the green gold in fostering socio-economic development and poverty alleviation as well as contributing to the development of green economy. Moreover, the Royal Government of Cambodia has continued to strengthen the tourism related infrastructure and ensure the linkage between tourism and agriculture, which is one of the main factors to upgrade the living standard of the people. One of the major components of the Royal Government’s strategy is to create the green line region or agricultural development region surrounded by tourism resorts in order to achieve pro-poor tourism development. In this regard, in order to further facilitate and attract the private investment, the Royal Government has paid high attention to the improvement of significant tourism related infrastructures such as telecommunication development and to the improvement of the international airport in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Koh Kong and other provinces. We are also putting more funds on building the agricultural infrastructures and other coordination mechanisms aiming to develop the green area around those tourism destinations.

In 2010, Cambodia achieved tourism growth of 16% with international tourist arrivals of around 2.5 million and internal tourists of around 7 million, with further increase of 7%. This illustrates that Cambodia not just only enjoys peace, political stability, security, safety, but also has well-developed infrastructure linkage, good resorts, good services and stable economic environment. These positive achievements have come from the effort in actively implementing the tourism promotional campaign “Cambodia-Kingdom of Wonders” along with competitive movement “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service” with active participation from relevant institutions, private sector and the people.

Along with the efforts made by Cambodia, these accomplished results cannot be separated from the indispensable cooperation inASEAN Framework, Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), CLV Development Triangle Area (Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam) cooperation, CLMV (Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam) cooperation and Emerald Triangle Area Cambodia-Lao-Thailand cooperation and cooperation with various international organizations, especially the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Along with that, in order to push the tourism growth to ASEAN and promote ASEAN tourism integration, contributing to the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, the Royal Government of Cambodia has, hereby, completely supported the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (2011-2015), which was just adopted by ASEAN Tourism Ministers on 17 January 2011. I strongly hope that we are united to achieve ASEAN Joint Vision by 2015 in order to transform ASEAN to beASEAN-World Class Tourist Destination and ASEAN-Feel the Warmth by ensuring quality, sustainable tourism development with responsibility to contribute to achieving United Nations Millennium Development Goal.

In this gracious occasion, I would like to support the Joint Statement of ASEAN Tourism Ministers and Joint Statement of Tourism Ministers of ASEAN+3, ASEAN-Korea, ASEAN-India and the Joint Statement of the Tourism Ministers of GMS, and I would also like to support the initiative of forming ASEAN-Arab Tourism Cooperation, which is in line with the ASEAN Visionto further expand ASEAN Cooperation and Dialogue for the sake of socio-economic development of ASEAN member states as well as its dialogue partners.

I strongly believe that the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011 is the ideal occasion as it not only helps promote tourism products of Cambodia and ASEAN to the whole world, but also shows the importance of tourism and continues to promote the activities in this sector to be more comprehensive for contributing to socio-economic development and achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and poverty alleviation of the people in the region and the world.

I also hope that Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, all related Stakeholders in Public and Private Sectors will jointly cooperate to achieve the ASEAN Vision as put “ASEAN-World Class Tourist Destination and ASEAN-Feel the Warmth”.

Finally, I wish this forum a greater and more fruitful success, which will significantly contribute to promote the development process of ASEAN Tourism with quality, sustainability and responsibility. May I now declare the Opening of ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011!

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