The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia on Thursday signed an agreement to launch a series of programs to revitalize tourism relations between the two countries.
Represented by DOT Secretary Wanda Teo and Fr. Thong Khon of Cambodia, the Implementing Program of Tourism Cooperation of 2016-2020 is one of the four contracts signed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to Cambodia.
Also present in the signing at the Peace Palace in the country’s capital Phnom Penh were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Secretaries Perfecto Yasay, Jr. (DFA), Silvestre Bello III (DOLE), Delfin Lorenzana (DND), Ramon Lopez (DTI) and Bong Go (PMS).
With the agreement, Teo said she expects a significant increase in visitor arrivals from Cambodia, noting that this year’s January to August visitor tally was a meager 2,381.
On the other hand, the Philippines provided a steady number of arrivals to Cambodia. In 2015, the Philippines accounted for 84,677 visitor arrivals in Cambodia, and 70,680 arrivals in the first half of this year.
“Now is the best time to involve our Cambodian friends in our Tourism programs and initiatives. We would be happy to help them further as they promised to do the same for us,” Teo said.
According to the Tourism Cooperation pact signed, air accessibility and route development will be given priority.
“Coordination with respective airline companies and civil aviation authorities will be undertaken towards the launch of direct flights from Manila to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap,” Teo said.
The Tourism Cooperation Treaty between the two countries also stipulates the creation of a joint working group that will serve as platform for both countries to present their corresponding environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tourism development and cultural preservation programs, as well as experiences in the governance of the tourism industry, enforcement of tourism laws and regulations, and conservation of cultural heritage sites.
Teo said it also has been agreed that the third joint working group will meet in Siem Reap in June 2017 while the fourth meeting will take place in the Philippines in the last quarter of 2017.
To strengthen awareness of tourism destinations and products in both countries, familiarization tours and exchange programs for tourism and hospitality students and professionals will be further enhanced, according to the agreement.