The South Caucasus and Southeast Asia approach
Cambodia plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Azerbaijan with a focus on tourism and setting up direct flights between the countries by 2017. The plan came out after a meeting between Tourism Minister Thong Khon, and Anar Imanov, ambassador of Azerbaijan, last week. Mr. Khon said, “There will be a MoU signed on cooperation in tourism between Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Azerbaijan, in which the two sides agree to boost the flow of international tourists from Azerbaijan to Cambodia.” The minister said the ambassador saw the potential of tourism in Cambodia, which has temples such as Angkor Wat, cultural and tourism sites, as well as natural, clean beaches.
“Cambodia has peace and full political and social stability, which are catching the attention of tourists and investors from Azerbaijan,” added Mr. Khon.
“Both sides also discussed attracting investors from Azerbaijan to invest in Cambodia, especially in tourism. Both Cambodia and Azerbaijan are willing to sign the MoU as soon as next year and plan to set up a working group for that,” Mr. Thon said.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan asked the Cambodian government to help promote Cambodian tourism in the Azerbaijan market, and asked Cambodia to make a specific policy of encouraging tourists and investors from Azerbaijan.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Cambodia Chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, welcomed Cambodia’s willingness to sign the MoU. “Whenever we sign such an MoU, it provides us with the benefits of cooperation and friendship. Not only tourism but other sectors also will benefit.”
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the newly founded National Tourism Federation of Cambodia, said the relationship with Azerbaijan first started at a diplomatic front and that quickly evolved to encompass the tourism and trade sectors. “In the case of more tourists being interested in Cambodia, the MoU will be able to take effect 100 percent, leading to direct flights between the two countries,” Mr. Vandy said.
Financial problems around the world, especially in the European Union, had restricted spending on tourism. While many European tourists arrive in Cambodia, the number of long-distance travelers is less than regional tourists. According to the ministry’s report, Cambodia received 3.7 million foreign tourists in the first nine months of the year, up about five percent on the same period last year. The ministry is developing a new marketing strategy to ensure it meets its goal of 7.5 million international tourists a year by 2020. It says this will generate $5 billion in economic revenue annually and create about one million jobs.