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Sihanoukville takes centre stage as the Kingdom hosts ASEAN Tourism Forum

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Sihanoukville is hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022 from January 16-22. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Sihanoukville takes centre stage as the Kingdom hosts ASEAN Tourism Forum

The eyes of the region are on Cambodia from January 16-22, as Sihanoukville hosts the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2022 – Southeast Asia’s largest tourism trade event.

Having already successfully hosted events last month such as the East Asia Seas Congress 2021 and the Southeast Asian Sailing Championship since the easing of Covid restrictions, ATF 2022 is the latest opportunity to showcase Sihanoukville to the wider world.

The coastal city has already witnessed impressive recent development, as a new master plan aims to further advance it as a gateway city and transform it into a national economic centre and sustainable smart city while remaining a jewel in Cambodia’s tourism sector.

“It is with great pride that we host the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022. As the host, Cambodia and Preah Sihanouk province have placed utmost priority on safety and every detail needed in the organisation process to ensure a smooth, successful and safe undertaking, considering the precautionary circumstances relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Preah Sihanouk province will take this opportunity to utilise the untapped potential of its beautiful beaches and sea, islands and natural resources, while showcasing its outstanding transformational development as one of the most attractive tourism and investment spots in Cambodia and the region.

“Entrusted with the hosting of this important event, Preah Sihanouk province is showcasing once again the committed aspiration of the Kingdom’s government to turn it into a multipurpose model economic zone and become an engine for national economic growth,” said Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche.

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Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche. Hean Rangsey

The forum is to feature the 187-booth TRAVEX tourism expo, and with ASEAN tourism ministers and other senior officials due to attend, the event is to signal that Southeast Asian tourism is open again for business.

“With the pandemic, I see Cambodia hosting ATF 2022 as the Kingdom’s ‘Tourism 2’ promotion efforts, not only for Cambodia but for the wider region, articulating Cambodia’s commitment as a key stakeholder in the region’s tourism ecosystem to promote ASEAN as one the most attractive tourist destinations post-Covid.

“Taking place along the ASEAN Tourism Forum is the TRAVEX trade fair, which will constitute 187 stands with the participation of more than 40 companies and 20 media institutions from 27 countries.

“This special trade fair will serve as a unique and specialised platform for suppliers in the tourism industries of ASEAN to match up and establish business connections and relationships with potential buyers and customers from around the world,” said Dimanche.

ATF is a cooperative regional effort to promote Southeast Asia as one tourist destination, and this year’s edition is to be held under the theme “ASEAN – A Community of Peace and Shared Future”.

“It is extraordinarily special that the ATF takes place alongside Cambodia’s ASEAN chairmanship, and I am therefore very optimistic and look forward to a fruitful hosting of these crucial events.

“As one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in Southeast Asia, Cambodia extends its welcome for strengthening travel partnerships at ATF 2022 – and to discover the rich Cambodian heritage and culture, as well as its nature, that will offer a cultural and eco-tourism experience that is both dynamic and sustainable.

“Themed ‘ASEAN – A Community of Peace and Shared Future’, ATF 2022 echoes the vision of tourism playing a key role to foster a unified and collaborative ASEAN,” Dimanche said.

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Representatives from 11 nations attended the East Asia Seas Congress. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

The annual ATF involves the tourism industry sectors of all 10 member states of ASEAN – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ATF was established in 1981, with the hosting of the forum rotated among the member countries each year.

And as Cambodia readies to take up the mantle, Dimanche said Sihanoukville is set to provide a memorable experience.

“Preah Sihanouk province is ready to showcase the new and fresh image of its extraordinarily beautiful beaches, some of the most unspoiled in all Southeast Asia, which is famously known as the perfect tropical getaway.

“This untapped potential is further well connected through the establishment of new infrastructure, transforming Sihanoukville into one of the most attractive spots for tourism to sparkle a memorable and rewarding experience and drive tourism forward,” he said.

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Sihanoukville successfully hosted the Southeast Asian Sailing Championship 2021. Heng Chivoan

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