Polls not to affect tourist arrivals to Cambodia: Tourism Minister

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-7-23 16:15:26

Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Tuesday that the July 28 national elections would not affect international tourist arrivals thanks to the country's sound security condition and political stability.

"In general, the situation is good so far, we do not see any decrease in the number of foreign tourists ahead of the elections, " he told Xinhua in an interview.

Tourism is one of the major sectors supporting the Cambodian economy. Last year, the country attracted 3.58 million foreign tourists, generating 2.2 billion US dollars in revenues.

The minister said in the first half of this year, the country had received 2 million foreign visitors, up 19 percent year-on- year. Among them, some 1.12 million tourists visited the 12th century Angkor archeological park, up 6 percent year-on-year.

World heritage Angkor archeological park, which is the kingdom's largest tourism destination, receives between 5,000 and 7,000 foreign visitors a day, he said.

"We don't see any drop of tourists to the site due to the election season," he said. "Foreign tourists are confident in the country's good security and political stability."

Thong Khon said he does not foresee any instability or unrest during the upcoming elections because Cambodian people have better awareness of laws now, and there is a higher level of mutual understanding between the government and its citizens.

"We expect around 4 million foreign tourists this year, a 12 percent rise year-on-year," he said.

The fifth National Assembly elections will be held on Sunday this week with about 9.67 million eligible voters.

Eight political parties will compete in the polls. Two major parties of them are the ruling Cambodian People's Party of longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party of recently-pardoned leader Sam Rainsy.

Hun Sen's party is widely expected to win the majority vote in the elections. One of the world's longest-serving leaders, Hun Sen, 61, has been in power for 28 years and vowed to rule the country for another decade.

Ang Kim Eang, president of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, which represents 220 tour and travel operators, said tourists are interested in the attractive tourism sites, not the polls.

"They do not care about the polls since they know that now Cambodia has good security and political stability," he told Xinhua on Tuesday, "They just want to see interesting tourism destinations in Cambodia such as the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province, or the beautiful coastline in Preah Sihanouk province."

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