Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy on Friday criticized the government’s new “open skies” policy allowing Siem Reap to be an international gateway, arguing it would jeopardize Phnom Penh’s businesses.
“The open skies policy is good only for Siem Reap tourism. But it would be a big loss for Cambodia if you consider the benefits for the whole country,” Sam
Rainsy said during a break in a National Assembly meeting.
His remarks came two days after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered an immediate open skies policy to boost tourism.
The idea is to encourage direct flights to Siem Reap from other cities across the region.
Previously, only Royal Air Cambodge and Bangkok Airways flights between Siem Reap and Bangkok were allowed. The airlines received the special deal ostensibly to help Cambodia’s tourist industry recover after the factional fighting in July 1997.
Sam Rainsy maintained foreign visitors now will be even more likely to bypass Phnom Penh.
“With the only one international gateway policy, the government encouraged investors to come to Phnom Penh to build hotels. And now that the government has adopted the new policy, those hotels will see empty rooms,” the opposition leader said.
“The investment policy should be well planned and consistent,” he said.
But Tourism Minister Veng Sereyvuth said Sunday the new policy will benefit Cambodia as a whole, including Phnom Penh.
“We would like to strengthen the air linkage in the region,” he said.