Cambodian authorities have announced that new initiatives will be put in place to promote the growing opportunities for Ecotourism throughout the country.
Various ministries with tourism linked responsibilities will be tasked with working together in efforts aimed at boosting Ecotourism. These include the departments responsible for tourism, the environment, forestry issues, agricultural development and fisheries.
A quote from Thong Khon, the Tourism Minister, stated that out of almost 2,000 communities in the fishing and forest sector, only a few of these provide tourism services.
Continuing with comments he stated that the relevant ministries would establish a working group. This group will create means and methods of how to help communities better understand and function within the important tourism sector.
This assistance will be offered in numerous ways. Examples the minister stated were in terms of improvements to infrastructure such as road access and facilities on-site, and to assist in the training of local tour guides.
The communities concerned need to understand, accept and integrate the required improvements to ensure that tourism standards within their communities are similar to other regional facilities.
The minister went on to say that around 50 of the nationwide tourism communities currently provide quality services for tourists.
It is clear that by building and improving the capacities of communities providing tourism activities that these communities will benefit from increased visitor numbers, and consequently increased income.
The country’s ministries with responsibilities for tourism and the environment are on track to have a draft national ecotourism policy completed by August of this year. The release of this policy will coincide with the country’s second National Forum regarding the Protection and Conservation of Cambodia’s Natural Resources.
Ecotourism is a growing tourist revenue stream across the world. With its natural resources and beauty, Cambodia can certainly profit from such improvements.
Of the 5,011,712 international tourists that visited the country in 2016, only 66,349 of these spent time in areas designated for Ecotourism.
While this may seem a small percentage, it is an increase in visitors to such areas from the 2015 figures. During that year the country received a total of 4,775,231 international visitors with 63,261 of these spending time in Ecotourism areas.
This 4.9% increase between 2015 and 2016 to Ecotourism areas clearly shows that with a concerted effort from ministries and the communities concerned vast increases in Ecotourist numbers can be achieved. The obvious knock-on benefit for the fishing and forest communities is in terms of the additional revenue they will receive.