Increasing travel can be ‘glue’ that binds Chinese, Cambodian people closer together

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/23 22:48:40

Tourism is a core industry for Cambodia's economy, which is expected to expand 6.8 percent this year. With the tourism boom, Chinese investment is likely to inject new momentum for economic growth and help the Cambodian people at a time when the country faces a complicated internal and external environment.

China and Cambodia also have broad potential for cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, finance and energy. There is a high level of mutual trust between Beijing and Phnom Penh, ensuring that bilateral economic cooperation can develop free from any outside interference.

China supports Cambodia's efforts to protect political stability. Economic cooperation and investment are always pragmatic measures as well as being necessary to help a country enter a stage of stable development.

The steady growth of Cambodia's economy, one of the best-performing in Southeast Asia, is inseparable from the Cambodian government's pro-growth policies and efforts to ensure domestic stability. Nevertheless, some Western media reports have appeared to be biased against the Southeast Asian country.

China should certainly provide more support to ensure that Cambodia can continue on its steady growth path. No one doubts that the push for Cambodia's economic growth is not just in the interests of the Cambodian people, but is also a boon for the development of integration among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Cambodia is working to promote a "China-ready" strategy that aims to attract 2 million Chinese tourists annually by 2020, making tourism a potential new "glue" for Sino-Cambodian ties.

This strategy, including measures such as increasing the number of Chinese-speaking employees in tourism-related industries, is expected to give a significant boost to the travel sector.

In the first seven months of 2017, some 635,000 Chinese tourists visited the Southeast Asian country, up 42.7 percent year-on-year, according to the Xinhua News Agency. It's quite likely that the full-year figure will reach 1 million.

Following the steady rise of travel to Cambodia, Chinese companies may also need strategies to "get ready." For example, a tourism boom can create a huge new market in Cambodia for Chinese-language teaching, yuan-denominated transactions and Chinese restaurants.

Many intergovernmental cooperation mechanisms have been set up, for example the Confucius Institute, which is a non-profit public educational organization affiliated with China's Ministry of Education that provides Chinese language and cultural courses. But there is still much scope for cooperation in the private sector to meet the increasing demand.

With an ever-increasing number of Chinese tourists, Cambodia is in a sweet spot in terms of the development of its travel sector. The country is on track to meet its objective of attracting 2 million Chinese tourists by 2020 with efforts to renovate historical sites, build seaside resorts and rethink its stance on the gambling industry.

Chinese firms may need to examine the changing market dynamics to discover previously unknown opportunities. For instance, a highway network connecting historical sites with new seaside resorts is one area worth considering.

The author is a reporter the Global Times.


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