Secondary cities to relieve Cambodia’s iconic destinations from overcrowding

With 80% of all tourist arrivals concentrated in just three destinations – Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville along the Coast, the Ministry of Tourism is looking at promoting secondary destinations to better spread tourist movements across the Kingdom. “It is a necessity as we also would like to spread tourism benefits to more destinations in Cambodia,” tells So Mara, Cambodia Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism.

Selected destinations are Battambang, Kampot and Kratie. The three cities will be at the centre of a new promotion campaign by the Ministry of Tourism to highlight their unique appeal thanks to their colonial and historical heritage.

A comprehensive rehabilitation and promotion plan has been drawn by Cambodia Minister of Tourism in cooperation with the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, AFD).

Due to their historic Khmer and French colonial buildings, the three provincial capitals are being considered to attract visitors by being promoted as second-tier destinations. Just in Battambang, the AFD and the Ministry list some 800 buildings offering a historical interest. The smaller city of Kampot has some 300 historical structures while Kratie has a bit less but is worth a visit as it is the only historical town to be located along the Mekong River.

The AFD intends to help with the maintenance, repair and preservation of the towns’ old buildings and turn them into “inclusive” tourist cities, with all development activities set to be carried out with the consideration of the residents’ rights and benefits. “Promoting secondary destinations is easier than ever as infrastructures are developing quickly. We have for example better roads but we also revived our train network. Travelling by train is still in its infancy but we feel confident that it will increasingly be a reliable and sustainable way to travel across the country,’ adds So Mara.

“We hope that through the initiative, Cambodia will be able to build and strengthen its tourism sector to the next level,” hopes the Secretary of State.

Photo: So Mara, Secretary of State, Cambodia Ministry of Tourism