The Ministry of Tourism is selecting three model villages to represent Cambodia at the “Best Tourism Villages” competition, organised by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Council of Ministers said.
The event is scheduled for October in the Moroccan economic centre of Marrakesh, on the occasion of the 24th WTO General Assembly, according to a July 13 letter from the council signed by permanent secretary of state Hing Thoraksy.
The government has authorised the tourism ministry to work with relevant ministries and institutions, such as the Ministry of Interior, municipal, town and provincial authorities, and other stakeholders to nominate the three village, the letter said.
The model village selection process can be incorporated into the existing mechanism of the Clean City Competition, which is handled by the tourism ministry to smooth implementation and inspection, it said.
Tourism ministry spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on July 18 that a key criterion for selecting villages to the international competition is tourism potential.
Tourism activities offered in the villages must relate to the protection and conservation of culture, heritage, traditions and customs, and a sizable portion of the population must be involved in the industry, he said.
He added that the selection process is part of the “roadmap for plans to restore and promote the tourism sector in Cambodia during and after the Covid-19 crisis.
“If Cambodia wins the competition, it will bring many benefits, such as experience-sharing on developing model villages with other countries, as well as the creation of new tourism products to prop up local economies and provide additional job opportunities to the people,” Sopheak said.
Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan underlined that taking part in the global competition will provide a shot in the arm for the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
He said eligible villages must actively work to preserve aspects of cultural heritage in their original context, ensure a reasonable degree of security and maintain a clean environment.
“The programme will be able to bring greater global attention to Cambodia, especially if its model tourist villages are chosen.”
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said the push to make it to the world-class event would not only attract foreign tourists, but also local holidaymakers.
“On behalf of the private sector, we really appreciate and support this endeavour. When there’s a competition at each village and commune, the respective localities always organise, even though Cambodia has yet to reopen to foreign tourists,” she said.
Cambodia Hotel Association president Din Somethearith said the selection process would provide a serious leg-up for hotels and the greater tourism sector, and enhance the Kingdom’s reputation.
Internally, local authorities and people will strive to improve and develop each village in all areas, and build a stronger local economy, he said.
Externally, the nominated villages will have the opportunity to partner with overseas counterparts and learn from each other, fostering strong relations, he added.
“Through the event, alliances can be forged between international model tourism villages, to redevelop the hotel and tourism sectors down the line,” he said.
The UNWTO said the deadline for applications to the “Best Tourism Villages” is August 31, noting that member states can present up to three villages. The results will be announced in October on the occasion of the 24th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Marrakesh, Morocco.