The Mekong Tourism Forum is set to be held in Hoi An, Vietnam from October 3-8, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) has announced, and is expected to contribute to revitalisation and boosting of the Greater Mekong Subregion’s (GMS) hard-hit tourism sector.

The announcement was made during an MTCO meeting on May 12, in which the Cambodian side was represented by Seang Neak, Ministry of Tourism deputy director-general for Tourism Development and International Cooperation.

Other issues discussed during the meeting included tourism recovery achievements amongst GMS countries, the GMS tourism rehabilitation plan, ways to promote tourism within the subregion and reopening countries to international tourists in ways that comply with existing health safety regulations and requirements of GMS countries.

Neak highlighted Cambodia’s positive track record in tourism matters such as boosting inclusive tourism infrastructure construction projects in the coastal area, the implementation of ASEAN tourism standards and strengthening tourism leadership capacity amongst neighbours Laos and Vietnam.

He also shared the ministry’s views on the potential and advantages of the region’s tourism sector and the benefits of reopening to foreign tourists.

Suvimol Thanasarakij, the new executive director of the MTCO, said she will continue to work to strengthen the implementation of the plan to further restore tourism in the GMS back to pre-pandemic levels.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said he noted that, since the government announced the removal of almost all Covid-19 restrictions for foreign visitors in March, the number of tourists entering Cambodia has increased significantly.

This has been especially the case after neighbouring countries Thailand and Vietnam opened their borders, which has been increasing the flow of cross-border travel for leisure and business, he said.

Sinan added that every tourism forum or event is always a boon and a positive indicator for the sector.

“In terms of tourism in Cambodia at the moment, I can say that [this forum] is once again a positive thing. The number of tourists coming to Cambodia will increase if the Covid-19 epidemic tapers off even more and the political and economic situation in the world improves,” he said.

Tourism ministry data showed that from January to March, a total of 159,546 foreign tourists visited Cambodia, a 125 per cent increase from the same period in 2021.