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Tourism at the Forefront of Cambodia’s Socio-economic Development: Initiatives and Prospects under Prime Minister’s Leadership

by Samheng Boros
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Written by H.E Samheng Boros

Prime Minister Samdech Moha Borvor Thipadei Hun Manet recently emphasized the vital role of tourism in Cambodia’s socio-economic growth, highlighting its strategic importance. His vision underscores the sector’s contribution to the nation’s development, presenting an optimistic outlook for its future. This acknowledgment by the Prime Minister not only showcases the pride in the progress made but also sets a positive tone for the continued expansion and enhancement of Cambodia’s tourism industry, reflecting its central role in the country’s broader economic strategy.

Addressing the gathering at the 8th River Festival in Siem Reap Province on 16 March 2024, the Premier unequivocally positioned tourism as a pivotal sector under the aegis of the 7th legislature’s Royal Government. This stance underscores a profound recognition of tourism’s multifaceted contributions, spanning economic growth, cultural preservation, and sustainable management of natural resources.

Premier Hun Manet’s discourse encapsulated the transformative impact of tourism on Cambodia’s economy over the past three decades, highlighting an impressive 13-fold increase in GDP from 1993 to 2023. This historical context sets the stage for the ambitious goals of the Pentagon-Phase 1 strategy, aiming to catapult Cambodia into the high-income country echelon by 2030. The Premier’s optimism about tourism playing a significant role in achieving this vision is both palpable and inspiring.

At the heart of recent strategic endeavors is the commendable work of the Ministry of Tourism, led by H.E Sok Soken. Over the past six months, the Ministry has launched new strategic plans and initiatives, steering the sector towards competitiveness, sustainability, and eco-friendliness. The leadership’s proactive approach has already borne fruit, with Cambodia welcoming 5.45 million international tourists in 2023 and setting sights on a robust recovery to pre-COVID19 levels by 2025.

The year 2024 has been earmarked as a milestone for promoting tourism in Siem Reap, with the “Visit Siem Reap 2024” campaign taking center stage. This initiative, coupled with the year of people-to-people exchanges between Cambodia and China, and the inaugural Cambodia-India Tourism Year, represents a strategic multipronged approach to attract an influx of international visitors. The recent inauguration of Siem Reap Angkor International Airport on 16 November 2023 further amplifies the region’s accessibility and tourism potential.

A noteworthy legislative measure under Premier Hun Manet’s leadership is the issuance of a sub-decree establishing Runa Ek Techo Sen, aimed at transforming Runa Ek into a model city within Siem Reap. This initiative not only enhances urban aesthetics and convenience but also aligns with UNESCO’s requirements for preserving the global value of Angkor, ensuring its continued presence on the World Heritage List.

In a bid to sustain the momentum of tourism growth, the Premier has endorsed the hosting of annual events across various tourist hotspots, alongside regular sporting and cultural festivities. This initiative underscores the importance of advanced planning in the tourism sector, enabling stakeholders to curate attractive tour packages and bolster tourist arrivals.

The emphasis on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a catalyst for economic development is yet another testament to the holistic approach adopted by the Royal Government. By fostering collaborations and facilitating international flight connections, the government aims to ensure a seamless flow of visitors, thereby amplifying the sector’s contribution to national prosperity.

In line with the Prime Minister’s visionary leadership, we are steadfast in our mission to ensure that no one and no place is left behind in our quest for socio-economic prosperity. Prime Minister Hun Manet’s vision of “Leave No One and No Place Behind,” lauded by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, encapsulates the inclusive growth ethos that permeates Cambodia’s development agenda. As the country strides forward, the strategic prioritization of tourism not only heralds a new era of economic revitalization but also reaffirms Cambodia’s commitment to sustainable development and cultural preservation. 

Under Samdech Moha Borvor Thipadei Hun Manet’s wise leadership, Cambodia is set to reach new peaks in tourism and socio-economic progress. We are committed to advancing together towards a bright, inclusive, and sustainable future for every Cambodian. A shared vision of prosperity and growth is what drives this collective journey. 

“Visit Cambodia in 2024” encapsulates this spirit of optimism and invites the world to witness our beautiful nation’s transformation and the rich opportunities it offers. Together, we are forging a path that celebrates our cultural heritage while embracing modern development.

About the Author: H.E. Samheng Boros, an inspiring Minister attached to the Prime Minister, is a passionate advocate for youth empowerment. With a deep admiration for sports, education, technology, and innovation, he serves as the honorary president of The Better Cambodia, leading positive news platform and fostering a brighter future for the nation.

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