National Assembly Debates Tourism Draft Law

Members of the National As­sem­bly debated a draft law Mon­day morning to help the currently ailing tourism sector by increasing security and improving services for foreign visitors, government officials said. Some lawmakers though said the law remained too ambiguous to be very effective.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the draft law would help develop tourism and make it sustainable even during tough economic times, though he offered few specifics on how the law would accomplish that task.

“This law aims to promote the tourism sector as a way to make an ec­on­omic boom,” he said Monday during a break in the meeting before leaving to return to the debate.

He said the law would establish a licensing system through the minister for those wanting to build hotels. He also said the law would set up a rating system for hotels in the country that would classify es­tablishments by checking their services and amenities.

“We will check the hotel’s quality and give them an award annually for a good one,” he said. “Service is very important and the entire place has to have the license, and there will be action for those that are found to be not good,” he said of sub-standard establishments.

No date was set for when law­mak­ers would vote on the draft law.

Some, however, assailed the draft law, saying it was too vague and incomplete.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said the law did not clearly state how the government could go about building up the tourism industry.

“The law does not show how to improve the tourism sector,” he said. “It does not mention how the plans will be implemented.”

Another SRP lawmaker, Kim Sophearith, said the law used broad terms, such as “culture,” which left too much to the imagination. The draft law mentions preserving Cam­bodian culture, which could mean something as specific as the Ang­kor Wat temple complex or as general as the traditional thatched-roof housing found in the countryside.

“The word ‘culture’ is very broad. It needs to be made clearer,” he said during the debate.

The draft law comes on the heels of a slump in Cambodian tourism, which has trailed off since the be­ginning of the year.


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