The government is set to take more than 120 international delegates, who are in Preah Sihanouk province next month for the World-Bays Club’s 2022 World Congress, on a tour of various beaches, islands and ecotourism communities, to showcase Cambodia’s high-end attractions and put the Kingdom on the map as a preferred travel destination, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

This was discussed at a November 28 preparatory meeting for the December 9-14 congress, themed “Bays of Peace, Bays of Hope”, and the December 9-11 9th Sea Festival – the first since 2019, before Covid-19, the ministry noted in a statement.

Chuk Chumno, director of the ministry’s Department of Tourism Product Development, disclosed to The Post on November 29 some of the destinations planned for the international delegates to visit on their tour next month.

These are: unnamed Preah Sihanouk beaches, the Koh Song Saa twin isles (Song Saa Private Island); the islands of Koh Krabei (Six Senses Krabey Island), Koh Russey (Bamboo Island) and Koh Rong, especially the last one’s Koh Thansour beach; and the Peam Krasop community ecotourism site in neighbouring Koh Kong province.

To date, the countries represented among the confirmed attendees of the congress are Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Israel, France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Brazil, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Senegal, Angola and a number of Caribbean nations, he confirmed.

Attending November 28’s meeting were Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun, tourism minister Thong Khon, and You Sunlong, Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister, the statement said.

Addressing the meeting, Khon touted his ministry’s “diligent efforts” in the post-Covid-19 era to market Cambodia, with emphasis on its priority attractions, as a tourism destination and inspire foreign holidaymakers to choose the Kingdom. The minister identified the prospect of showing the delegates

around to these premier spots as a “very special” opportunity for the tourism sector that offers the “best way” to promote Cambodia as a tourism hub and draw in even more visitors.

Offering an explanation, he noted the sheer amount of people and media outlets that must be linked to the World-Bays Club and hence the extensive associated networks he said could be used as the equivalent of a team of tourism marketing agencies.

“In the post-Covid-19 tourism recovery phase [corresponding to 2022-2023], beaches, islands and ecotourism destinations will be the only ones playing an important role in attracting and welcoming more tourists,” the statement quoted Khon as saying.

Officials meeting on site on November 28 to prepare fo international visitors to the coastal tourist destination of Sihanoukville. TOURISM MINISTRY

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy told The Post on November 29 that the ongoing planning and development of urban and island infrastructure has turned Preah Sihanouk into an attractive travel option.

He noted that the province’s coastline, as part of the Bay of Cambodia, is a member of the World-Bays Club, also known as the “Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World”.

Vandy is confident that bringing international tourism leaders and players to experience the Kingdom’s most important travel spots with their own eyes will provide a material boost to promotion efforts.

“In December, Preah Sihanouk will host the Sea Festival and the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club congress, an opportunity for Cambodia to promote its beautiful and diverse tourism offerings to the world.

“Preah Sihanouk’s beaches and islands are now well-prepared to welcome visitors of all nationalities,” he said, noting that the southwestern province also boasts commercial centres and many entertainment venues for travellers to explore.

Last weekend, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) announced that it had approved a proposal by Huan Hai Bo Lai International Investment Co Ltd to build a five-star hotel in Village 4, Commune IV, Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk province with registered capital of $168 million.

The Kingdom welcomed nearly 1.266 million international visitors in the first nine months of this year – up 861.29 per cent year-on-year but down 73.71 per cent over the same period in 2019 – of which 946,125, or 74.75 per cent, declared “holiday” as their purpose of visit, 270,910 (21.40 per cent) marked “business”, while 48,737 (3.85 per cent) indicated other motives, according to the tourism ministry.

Of the January-September total, 468,889 arrived by air, and 796,883 entered overland or by waterways, down by 86.18 per cent and 43.90 per cent, respectively, from the corresponding period in 2019.

Of note, if the number of international visitors for each remaining month this year is equal to or greater than the September figure of 267,500, the full-year total would top 2.068 million, or 3.41 per cent more than the two-million upper bound of the estimated range offered by the tourism ministry as recently as November 2.