The Ministry of Tourism and the Indian embassy have entered into two memorandums of understanding (MoU) on digital and other forms of cooperation between the two nations in the realm of tourism.
The MoUs – “Enhancing Ecotourism Activities in Phat Sanday Ecotourism Community, Kampong Thom Province” and “Developing Mobile Application to Promote Tourism and Ecotourism Communities” – are part of New Delhi’s Quick Impact Project (QIP) Scheme under the framework of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation.
The documents were signed on April 1 by ambassador Devyani Khobragade and ministry director-general for Tourism Development and International Cooperation Thong Rathasak.
The Phat Sanday deal aims to support the southwest Kampong Thom community, strengthen the involvement of women in the workforce, and deter members from illegal activities like fishing in prohibited areas or deforestation, the embassy said in a press release.
The other MoU covers the development of a “dynamic” mobile app to be used as a common platform to promote ecotourism communities and other tourism assets throughout the country, it added.
Tourism minister Thong Khon said in the press release that the MoUs represent “positive steps” in efforts to spur tourist arrivals to the Kingdom, as the Covid-19 pandemic shifts into an endemic state.
He also called for the launch of direct flights between the two countries and other measures to encourage more Indians to travel to Cambodia. “For the commencement of chartered flight operations between the two countries, the Ministry of Tourism will provide the necessary assistance.”
He also sought assistance from New Delhi in a new proposed endeavour dubbed the “Trail of Civilisation”, saying that it would lead to “increased tourist footfall and thereby immensely benefit tourism in Cambodia”.
The ambassador said the projects under the two latest MoUs would be completed “in one year”, stressing that they would empower the lives of Cambodians, and noting that they are part of New Delhi’s development initiatives.
“The projects lead to the enhancement of the overall bilateral relationship and good will between the people of India and Cambodia. Both countries need to work towards achieving direct air connectivity,” Khobragade said.
She said that both sides should work towards launching chartered flights that connect Siem Reap province and Buddhist tourist sites in India. Khobragade asked the minister to share additional information on the “Trail of Civilisation” so that both countries can better work on it together.
New Delhi and Phnom Penh are currently working on a slew of grant assistance programmes designed to significantly improve the socio-economic development of the people of Cambodia.
Under the scheme, the Indian government implements 10 projects every year in Cambodia backed by funds of up to $50,000 per project.
Since 2015-2016, New Delhi has approved 46 projects in fields such as information technology (IT), agriculture, health, sanitation, women’s empowerment, child welfare, rural development, capacity building and other social infrastructure, and the environment.
Of these, 21 projects have been completed and the remaining 25 are at various stages of execution.