Government Considers More Consulates in China to Boost Tourism

The government is considering opening additional consulates in China in an attempt to attract more tourists from the world’s second-largest economy, according to a message posted to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official Facebook page.

The post, dated Tuesday, follows a meeting on Monday between Mr. Hun Sen and Li Jinzao, chief of the China National Tourism Administration, in Macau, where the prime minister is attending the 2015 Global Tourism Economy Forum.

“The Cambodian government is considering the possibility of opening more consulates in areas with tourists and areas with direct flights [to Cambodia] in China in order to attract tourists to Cambodia,” it said.

On top of the benefits more Cambodian consulates would bring, the post said, the government would attempt to make traveling easier for Chinese visitors.

“To attract more Chinese tourists, Cambodia will…make it easier to use yuan currency [in the country] and open up more direct flight routes from all parts of China to Cambodia,” it said.

Reached by telephone, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said that while he was not aware of plans to establish new consulates in China, the presence of more diplomatic offices would likely have a positive effect on tourism.

“Generally speaking, in terms of tourism, when we have our consulate or representative office in a country, first the promotion of tourism in Cambodia increases and, second, it is easier to issue visas to come to Cambodia,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook post also said that the prime minister requested that China continue to help increase the number of tourists traveling to Cambodia— setting a goal of 1.3 million Chinese tourist arrivals, without specifying a time period.

It said the prime minister hoped the total number of Chinese tourists to the country would reach 700,000 this year, up from 560,000 in 2014—a 25 percent increase.

In 2013, the Tourism Ministry released a draft five-year plan to attract 1.3 million Chinese tourist arrivals by 2018.

The plan called for Chinese-   language road signs, strengthened marketing efforts, more direct flights between the two countries, more Chinese-speaking tour guides and designated “China Towns” in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap City and Sihanoukville.

In 2014, tourist arrivals from China increased by 21.7 percent compared to the year before, accounting for the second-largest share of visitors to Cambodia, after those from Vietnam.

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