Major Travel Expo Announced for Next Year

Three major tourism groups seeking to promote Cambodia as a global destination on Tuesday announced the organization of the country’s largest international travel fair.

The industry expo, scheduled for late next year, will be the first of its kind, organizer Thourn Sinan, president of Cambodia Tourism Federation, said on Tuesday at a news conference.

“We need to get people to come to Cambodia to see who we really are,” Mr. Sinan said. “Even though the government tries hard to promote Cambodia, in some parts of the world—like Japan—if you ask people, they might not know Cambodia.”

With 4.5 million people visiting the country in 2014, Cambodia ranked seventh out of the 10 Asean members for tourist arrivals, according to the latest available figures from the Asean Tourism Statistics Database. Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore had the most visitors that year.

Alongside the tourism federation, the Pacific Asia Travel Association and Cambodia Association of Travel Agents are backing the expo.

Kotaro Kazami, a senior sales manager at leading Japanese travel agency JTB, said there was little awareness of Cambodian travel options.

Most Japanese visitors only know of Angkor Wat, Mr. Kazami said in an email on Tuesday. “There are still a lot of tourist destinations such as in Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Koh Kong provinces.”

Cambodia is more likely to fulfill its potential for attracting tourists by reducing transportation times from one tourist destination to another, he added.

The event, scheduled for October 19 to 21 at Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich Exhibition Center, will highlight local attractions and hotels as well as international flights and tours for travelers to Cambodia, according to a news statement.

The number of Cambodians traveling abroad this year rose 20 percent from last year, according to data as of October from the Tourism Ministry.

Hor Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Tourism Alliance, said the fair should help get more Cambodian stamps in foreign travelers’ passports.

“This will help those who want to get to know Cambodia and increase traveling confidence among the general public,” he said.

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