Tourism Ministry Offers Contest to Welcome Chinese Visitors

The Tourism Ministry is pitting attractions around the country against each other in a competition to be the friendliest destinations for visitors from the world’s most populous country.

The “China Ready Contest,” revealed by the ministry on Monday, intends to encourage businesses to be more China-friendly. About 830,000 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia last year, a 19.5 percent increase year-on-year, and the ministry hopes its latest idea will boost this figure substantially in years to come.

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Tourists climb up and down stairs on a spire at the Angkor Wat temple, the main attraction at Angkor Archaeological Park, in Siem Reap province. (Creative Commons)

Competitors must score a certain number of points in the China Ready Accreditation System, previously released by the ministry, which evaluates nine major tourist sectors, including restaurants, hotels, travel agencies and entertainment.

Eung Kimhuy, of the ministry’s China Ready Center, offered a few tips to help businesses gain accreditation: hire Mandarin-speaking staff, translate menus and promotional posters, accept the Chinese yuan as payment and offer ecotourism options.

Once a company passes the accreditation round, it will receive an account profile and QR code that opens the second round of the competition, in which customers review their tourism offerings, Mr. Kimhuy said.

The 10 companies that perform the best in the accreditation system between this month and October will receive a prize: certification from the ministry for this year and inclusion in its promotional plan, Mr. Kimhuy said.

The goal of the contest, other than first-place glory, is to bring 2 million Chinese tourists annually to Cambodia by 2020, as part of the ministry’s “China Ready” strategy announced a year ago. The ministry has already encouraged tourism businesses to begin accepting yuan.

Eung Kim Hong, the manager of Chhne Meas restaurant in Sihanoukville, already has a leg up on the competition.

Mr. Kim Hong said some of his staff can speak and understand Mandarin, and the restaurant’s name and menu already have a Chinese translation.

The restaurateur said he is willing to enter the competition, but probably would not make an extra effort to hire more Mandarin-speaking staff, since most of his Chinese customers come in tour groups.

Taxi driver Soeun Sok Phat said his Siem Reap tours will continue as usual, without a Mandarin translation.

“I have many clients from Malaysia, Singapore and Europe who can speak English, but none from China,” he said. “I might not have any experiences dealing with Chinese tourists to join the contest.”

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