The Ministry of Tourism plans to select three model villages which will represent Cambodia in the Best Tourism Villages competition, held by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for 2022.
According to the ministry’s Clean City Department director Huot Rithy, the ministry would act on the indicators of the UNWTO, which first held the competition in 2021. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodia declined to take part in last year’s competition.
He said the competition falls into two categories – those who qualify for the Best Tourism Villages Label and those that do not. Any village that meets the nine indicators of the UNWTO will win the award. If any village does not meet the indicators, it will be subject to an upgrade programme and will receive guidance from the UNWTO so they can compete the following year.
He added that the nine indicators are about the conservation of natural resources, the promotion and conservation of cultural resources, socio-economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, tourist development, priority governance, infrastructure and connectivity, and health and safety.
“Entry requires three main points. First, we have to send the UNWTO pictures. Second, the UNWTO will request photographs specific to the above-mentioned indicators. Third, we must support our adherence to the indicators in writing. Basically, we have to fill out a form for the UNWTO,” he said.
Rithy continued that the ministry had already sent documents to the municipal and provincial administrations, which would select their nominees and return the forms by May 20. Once the ministry has assessed the nominees, they will select three and apply to the competition. The UNWTO has set an entry deadline of June 28.
“By May 20, all candidates will have submitted their applications to the ministry’s working group. The group will have further discussions on which villages we should choose for submission to the contest and the chance of winning a trophy,” he said.
Kampong Speu provincial tourism department director Ros Sok said on May 5 that after receiving the letter and documents from the ministry, he went to inspect several villages and then held a meeting. At the May 4 meeting, the province decided to select Tang Bampong village – now a tourist attraction – in Oral district’s Tasal commune .
He said he selected Tang Bampong because he wanted to turn it into a model village. Although it may fail to win the title this year, it can be developed by next year. Residents in the village traditionally earned a living by logging timber and farming. Because the forest protection community had turned the area into a tourist community, he wanted to develop it further to make it more attractive.
“We will work hard to build infrastructure and set up a team to turn Tang Bampong into a model tourism village,” he said.
Siem Reap provincial tourism department director Ngov Sengkak said on May 5 that officials were preparing to hold a meeting with the provincial administration to select a village for the competition. Although the meeting had not been held yet, he thought the province may select Preah Dak village in Banteay Srei district for the competition.
“We still have many more villages being improved. But because the Siem Reap area is under the purview of the Apsara National Authority, we do not only focus on establishing model tourist villages, we have to consider conservation and other impacts,” he said.
Kampot provincial tourism department director Soy Sinol also said that the province has yet to decide on a nominee. So far, he said his team had shortlisted Teuk Chhou, Tonob Mlech and Kon Sat.
“We see these three as the most appropriate selections, but will need to get final approval from the provincial administration,” he said.