- Posted by Newsdesk
- On 26th January 2017
- Belt and Road, Cambodia, Chinese investment, tourism
A campaign is underway in Cambodia to respond to weaknesses in, and challenges facing, the tourism industry there. The Ministry of Tourism intends to strengthen revenue from tourism licenses, eliminate non-licensed businesses by 2018 and, amongst other campaign goals, assess tourist guides for the quality of their services. The campaign hopes to reach its targets by 2020, when the Ministry hopes to welcome 7 million international tourist arrivals. Cambodia is well on its way to receiving an expected 2 million Chinese tourists per year by then, given that in the first 11 months of 2016, some 736,500 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia, accounting for 16.7% of the 4.4 million international tourists in that period. Last year, the China Ready Centre (CRC) was established by the Ministry of Tourism, to improve the Chinese language and cultural skills of local tourist operators working with Chinese clients – a move that will likely ensure the continued arrival of visitors from the north.
Increased efforts to attract Chinese tourists have not gone unnoticed by investors. The Chinese company Guangzhou R&F Properties has planned to invest US $3 billion within the next five years to build six-star luxury hotels in Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province. The investment will no doubt contribute to China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, however it remains to be seen whether this clashes with the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism’s development plans to curtail expansion by protecting beach areas in Sihanoukville, or whether officials will force developers to comply with rules on beach property locations, given rules have not been applied strictly in the past. The Economist recently noted that Cambodia may be willing to bend the rules for Chinese investors, reporting that one Chinese firm is developing a luxury resort inside a national park on the fringes of Sihanoukville, and another has won development rights to build along 20% of Cambodia’s coastline.
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