In an attempt to bolster a flagging tourism industry, the government plans to install an extensive public phone system in the country’s tourist centers of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province beginning the middle of this month, top post and telecommunication officials said Tuesday.
The government plans to lease 2,000 landline numbers and build 400 public phones in the capital and Siem Reap.
“We will put 40 of the phone boxes in the [Angkor] temple compound,” said So Khun, minister of Post and Telecommunications, adding that the new $1 million phone system should be completed by Dec 2. “Hundreds of clients have already registered for landline numbers.”
Secretary of State for the Ministry of Tourism Thong Khon said the phone system will be very convenient for tourists to use.
“It’s good news for us, too. The tourists will just buy phone cards and use them wherever they want,” he said.
The Ministry of Tourism would also like to see postal services established in Angkor Wat, Thong Khon said, in addition to the recent installation of mobile medical teams in some of the temples.
The ministry also will begin a project in January to connect cable telephone lines from Siem Reap to Banteay Meanchey, So Khun said. Telephone services eventually would be extended to Phnom Kulen and Anlong Veng, he said.
These efforts follow a severe drop in tourism since the Sept 11 attacks in the US.
The government estimates that tourism dropped by 20 percent between August and September, leaving airlines and hotels to deal with mass cancellations. Ben Bala, director of sales and marketing at the Hotel Cambodiana predicted the number would drop significantly in the coming months .
According to Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth, this time of the year should be the peak season for Cambodian tourism, but visitors have shied away for safety reasons. As a result, the country, which relies heavily on foreign visitors for income, must do more than before to make itself attractive, he said.