Relaxing policies, fixing quirks to rouse a sleeping tourism sector

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Cambodians take delight in the King’s coronation day fireworks on a solemn evening as global tourism stays glum.
Photo: Yousos Apdoulrashim

Cambodia’s special tourist policy to revive the economic segment aims to attract investors to its ‘great tourism zone’ but can it finally solve long-drawn setbacks in time?

A special tourist policy draft has wafted to the surface which has got the business community talking. If everything goes according to plan, the policy will be implemented early next year.

The cleverly-worded policy, which was jointly drafted with the Ministry of Tourism aims to kill two birds with one stone – that is, to boost tourism and investment via the “great tourism zone”.

It has five key strategies that identify the special tourist market, how to organise new tourism habits, grow foreign and local investments in the zone, risk management, and the provision of incentives and rights to special tourists.

The policy looks at adding value to the sector by attracting various classes of tourists including long-stays, repeats, and high spenders.

Deemed the “special tourist”, this person comes with “resources”, a socio-economic mindset and goal to add value to Cambodia’s tourist destinations, particularly by investing in the great tourism zone.

“[The tourist] will be qualified as a client of the zone,” it read.

The zone is defined by a 2019 sub-decree as measuring no less than 100ha with accommodation, food and beverage outlets, parks, sports and healthcare centres, and other tourism-related facilities.

It is seen as an “appropriate” solution to resolve many challenges including the spread of Covid-19, and housing tourists under well-organised management.

Through the policy, the special tourist will play a pivotal role in attracting three categories of tourists – regular visitors, business travellers, and those visiting families.

On the surface, there might seem only a smidge of difference relating to visa specifications but a deeper look at the wordings shows a likelihood of policy relaxation on property ownership and business procedure. For example, the draft places emphasis on attracting the special tourist due to competition in the region. Therefore, it is pertinent to grant them special rights, and facilitate visa, transportation, accommodation, business, and investment within the targeted tourism destinations. It would seem that this privilege is only bestowed to investors in the great tourism zone.

When asked what this meant, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) spokesman Top Sopheak said: “We want to push this policy to make it more comfortable for tourists to do business or buy land. Currently, foreigners can only buy property from the first floor up.

“We are working on a resolution to ease [this] and business procedures.” He did not elaborate despite several requests to do so.

Read the full article at The Phnom Penh Post: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/special-reports/relaxing-policies-fixing-quirks-rouse-sleeping-tourism-sector

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