With the Asean Tourism Forum coming to town next January, the Phnom Penh Hotel Association on Wednesday called for the Ministry of Tourism to increase promotion of the capital city as an attractive travel destination.
PPHA officials said that slow development and a lagging tourism industry have local hotel owners worried about the future of their operations.
PPHA President Meas Chhay said tourists usually visit Phnom Penh two to three days before leaving. The hoteliers want those stays extended to three to seven days. Currently only 20 percent of tourists entering Cambodia visit Phnom Penh while 80 percent go to Siem Reap, Meas Chhay said. He said the PPHA is also lobbying travel agencies to have Phnom Penh included in package tours.
Meas Chhay pointed to a lack of tourist infrastructure, beautification efforts and entertainment as hindrances to Phnom Penh tourism.
He said the PPHA would like to see the creation of a strategically located information center, a foreigner-friendly taxi service, a safe and clean night market, a reptile farm and anti-venom center, an art museum and special events during the low season. He also said attractions outside the city, such as Phnom Udong, should be made more accessible.
Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth told the hotel operators that the government was just as concerned about tourism as the private sector.
“I agree to work on your ideas as much as possible,” he said. “We are in the same boat.”
Chem Saman, the deputy director of Phnom Penh’s Department of Tourism, said tourist arrivals in the capital have increased steadily in recent years.
He also said City Hall has plans to renovate four markets and the government is taking a $2 million loan from the Asian Development Bank to improve the road to Beung Cheung Ek. Seventy percent of tourists who come to Phnom Penh visit the killing fields memorial, he said.
Officials also expect the renovation of Pochentong Airport, which is scheduled for completion in November, to be a boon for tourism.