Gov’t Searching for Right Words To Lure Tourists

It’s just a short flight to “Incred­ible India!” and only a bus trip to “Amazing Thailand.” And though some of the continent’s 36 other countries might feel left out, we have “Malaysia, Truly Asia.”

But what snappy slogan and dynamic punctuation can Cambo­dia use to lure tourists?

That’s the question facing the Min­istry of Tourism, which is searching for a new catchphrase.

Officials are busy compiling a list of suggestions, including “Cambo­dia—More Than Your Expecta­tion,” “Cambodia—Beyond Ang­kor,” and “Cambodia—Diversity Asia.”

“They must be attractive words that will encourage foreign tour­ists,” said Pak Sokhom, director of the ministry’s marketing and promotion department.

It’s just “a few words, but it has to be meaningful,” Pak Sokhom said, adding that a phrase will be chosen “as soon as possible.”

Cambodia’s official tourist slogan changes every year or so, and the winning slogan might be part of an international campaign, he said.

Cambodia is still branding itself for tourism, and the catchphrase needs to inform foreigners that the country has a lot more to offer than some might think.

“It should raise expectations,” Pak Sokhom said.

And while the actual slogan may be only a few words, the industry it will represent is massive—and growing.

More than 2 million people visited Cambodia in 2007, and tourist arrivals have increased by 20 percent or more annually for the past four years.

Tourism revenue amounted to about $1.4 billion in 2007, according to the Tourism Ministry.

The country’s current slogan, which is featured on the ministry’s official tourism guide, is “Cam­bodia—A Newest Destina­tion in Asia,” said Pak Sokhom, adding that the promotional campaigns are produced in-house by the ministry.

When representing a billion-dollar-plus industry, some experts be­lieve the government should call in professional advertising firms to re­search ideas, rather than simply brainstorming phrases among ministry and industry officials.

Potential slogans will be discuss­ed at a meeting Friday between business leaders and the Ministry of Tourism, said Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents.

Putting forth a few ideas of his own—“Exploring Cambodia,” and “Exotic Cambodia”—Ho Vandy said it wasn’t necessary to hire a professional advertising firm to help with ideas, as the ministry gets ample in­put already.

“The private sector is also giving their ideas about this,” he said.

According to a news release from the International Finance Cor­poration, the private-sector wing of the World Bank, Friday’s meeting of the Government-Private Sector Forum’s tourism group will include a marketing expert to discuss a comprehensive tourism branding strategy, including slogans.

Patrick Murray, general manager of the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh, said having a good slogan is extremely important, spe­cifically noting the catchy Mal­aysian tag line.

“It is something that reinforces an entire campaign,” he said.

Drawing on the expertise of an advertising agency and someone to check grammar in a slogan would help the campaign, he added.

“The country is moving forward, and there’s certainly potential in tourism, and I think they know that.”

To be effective, a slogan needs clear objectives and concepts be­hind it, such as expanding eco-tours or other forms of tourism, said Laurent Notin, director of market research at Indochina Research in Phnom Penh.

“They look simple, but the pro­cess to create that simple slogan is very complicated,” Notin said. “It sounds like they pulled these out of a hat.”

Some of the slogans suggested so far don’t send a clear message about Cambodia or its tourism po­tential, Notin said.

“‘Cambodia—Beyond Angkor.’ That means other than Angkor. But what is there exactly?” he asked. “Cambodia—More Than Your Expectation” also doesn’t work, he said.

“What does that mean? What are tourism expectations?”

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