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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        10 January 2011

Cambodian private sector unwilling to support tourism

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Private sector representatives say they are reluctant to contribute US$2 million in cash to a public-private initiative to support Cambodian tourism promotion.

The Ministry of Tourism has already contributed $2 million to the National Tourism Promotion Board, and has called on the private sector to contribute an equal amount, said Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents yesterday.

"The private sector has already given the feedback to the government - we have to pay a number of taxes," he said. "We don't think the private sector should come up with any amount of money for the tourism promotion board."

The association was instead considering contributing 'in kind' rather than cash, through making hotel rooms and rental vehicles available for the board.

"Probably we can do it that way," said Ang Kim Eang on the sidelines of the annual CATA meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday.

"We are doing some campaigns to collect [contributions] in kind."

Promoting tourism often requires paying for buyers, such as travel agents, to sample local tourism with the aim of garnering favourable reviews and generating business.

Ang Kim Eang said the process could be quite expensive, and added that he supported the idea of a promotion board.

The association is preparing for the 30th Asean Tourism Forum, to be held in Phnom Penh later this month.

So far, some 990 "buyers" have registered, far more than the 400 that were planned.

"It's quite expensive because [the government and the board] have to pay for air tickets for the delegates," he said. Minister of Tourism Thong Kong could not be reached for comment late yesterday.

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