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‘Special tourist policy’ afoot

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Tourism ministry secretary of state Tith Chantha speaks at the August 4 workshop on the ‘special tourist policy’. MOT

‘Special tourist policy’ afoot

The government continues to prepare its “special tourist policy” to support growth in the ailing travel industry and add value to the sector by attracting various classes of visitors including long-stays, repeats, high spenders, potential investors and others who may become involved in socio-economic development.

The Ministry of Tourism on August 6 said in a statement that it had held a workshop on the latest draft of the policy two days earlier with representatives of about 60 public and private institutions to ensure that the instrument is comprehensive and well-integrated.

Ministry secretary of state Tith Chantha told the workshop that while a typical traveller spends an average of $700-800 per trip to Cambodia, the “special tourist” described in the policy spends $2,000-3,000, visits the Kingdom more often and stays longer, and a “majority” have businesses or jobs in the Kingdom, according to the statement.

He said discussions are underway on the rights of these tourists, as investors or traders, to buy land for the construction of lodgings as well as the timeframes, objectives and other terms involved in the purchase.

“If tourists do obtain the rights to buy land to build lodging, it should only be allowed in the main tourism areas or in sacred tourism destinations such as Siem Reap, the coast, the northeast, but not in border areas,” Chantha said.

He shared that the policy aims to turn ecotourism into a more attractive investment option, and will contain mechanisms to attract more tourists in the future.

Speaking to The Post, Thourn Sinan, chairman of IMCT Co Ltd and Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter (PATACC), agreed that the government should consider allowing investors to buy homes, as other countries do, as long as the appropriate terms and conditions are set. He also voiced approval of the citizenship by investment programme.

Overall, the policy is “appropriate at this time”, “very beneficial” and will not only attract longer stays, but also bring in more travellers who may become investors.

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