The tourism ministry on July 4 unveiled an action plan focused around four key visions for the implementation of the recently-launched Mondulkiri Tourism Development Master Plan (“MTDMP”) 2021-2035, at an event in the northeastern province.
The first vision entails turning Mondulkiri into an international eco-tourism destination and a major domestic supplier – and eventual exporter – of flowers, vegetables, fruits and meat, Chuk Chumno, head of the secretariat of the Steering Committee of the MTDMP’s (“SCMTDMP”), the team behind the action plan, told the event.
The second involves raising the annual number of national and foreign visitors to the province to two million and 900,000 by 2035, respectively, creating about 80,000 jobs and generating $500 million in direct income and $1 billion in indirect income per year, said Chumno, who is also director of the ministry’s Tourism Product Development Department.
The third encompasses transforming the “northeastern region” into the fourth “economic pole” – after Phnom Penh, the coastal region and “Siem Reap region” – and further integrating Mondulkiri with the rest of the country as well as the region, he said.
Although Chumno did not specifically list the localities considered for the composition of the fourth “economic pole”, the northeastern region typically refers to the quartet of Mondulkiri, Kratie, Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces.
The fourth calls for maintaining a strong balance between economic development, tourism and inter-sectoral support with the conservation of natural resources and ethnic minority cultural heritage, to ensure the maximum fruits of socio-economic development, based on the principle of equitable distribution of benefits to stakeholders, he added.
Mondulkiri offers “great potential in all fields”, especially in tourism, with ample opportunity to transform the backwater province into a top-notch eco-tourism tourism magnet for repeat visitors that delivers jobs, raises incomes and improves the livelihoods of locals, Chumno commented.
The five wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas in the province, with a total area of more than one million hectares, are endowed with a vast wealth of natural resources for eco-tourism development, not unlike the major tropical forest area of Areng in the southern Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia, he added.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Tourism and SCMTDMP chairman Thong Khon underscored the strategic importance of the MTDMP 2021-2035 in the development of the tourism landscape, not just in Mondulkiri, but the whole northeastern region.
Khon invited companies and interested parties to seize investment opportunities in Mondulkiri to develop the tourism and allied sectors to achieve the visions associated with the master plan.
He also asked relevant ministries and institutions to incorporate the new action plan as well as the short-, medium- and long-term approaches set out in the MTDMP 2021-2035 into the master plan’s implementation, to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, “based on the spirit of pro-activeness and high responsibility”.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin pointed out that its forests, grasslands and waterfalls inhabited by ethnic minorities provide Mondulkiri with great potential for eco-tourism.
She believes that the MTDMP 2021-2035 will turn the province into a top leisure destination that will entice foreign visitors to Cambodia to stay longer.
“This plan will help Cambodia attract more nature-loving visitors to Cambodia, in addition to the ancient temples and beaches,” she told The Post.
Meanwhile, the government has approved the construction of a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri that could receive flights from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and major ASEAN cities in the nearer-term, and eventually accommodate longer-distance routes linking to Japan, South Korea, Australia and Middle Eastern countries, among other destinations.