Debating the Cure for an Ailing Tourism Industry

Members of the National Assembly debated for a second morning a draft law to help the currently ailing tourism sector by outlining the Tourism Ministry’s responsibilities and the role of state institutions in growing the industry.

Discussion ranged from reducing begging to temple protection to ensuring small businesses are not drowned out by larger, foreign-owned companies.

“The Ministry of Tourism does not want beggars in the tourist attractions,” Tourism Minister Thong Khon said during the session, adding that the solution to the problem would be finding jobs for them much like what NGO Mith Samlanh has done for street

There was general consensus that more institutions for promotion and tourism training are needed, but one opposition lawmaker said it was important the ministry regulate their quality.

“I recommend the Ministry of Tourism check up on the quality of the education and check the background of the universities that are providing tourism training,” SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said during the session.

Mr Thong Khon said more training institutions are needed, as there are very few, but that creating them is the responsibility of the private sector. He added that the draft law will create policy and principles for the quality of the training. “[But] we need the human resources to manage the tourism sector,” he said, talking about staffing at the ministry.

The draft law calls for the creation of a governing body for promoting tourism both outside and within Cambodia. The body would monitor the marketing of and broadcasting related to the tourism sector, an idea Mr Yim Sovann said was unnecessary. “Creating this [governing body] will only allow more corruption,” he said.

Mr Thong Khon was vague in his explanations of what purpose the governing body would serve, saying “the state would provide, firstly, the peace, infrastructure, important policy and legislation.”

The two chapters of the draft law debated Tuesday were easily pass-

ed, just as two previous chapters on security and improving services were ratified Monday.

There are nine more chapters to the draft law, and debate was scheduled to continue today.

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