By: Jon Bugge. ( July, 2002 Volume 2 No.7 )


The kingdom is gearing up for 2003 - why? Two events of international significance: The Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) and Visit Cambodia Year 2003.


The ATF is the most important regional event for the tourism industry; Cambodia will be the first country in IndoChina to host the event. With the huge growth in tourism in the kingdom it is the ideal host country. Last year forum was held in Yogyakarta in Indonesia. It is the 22nd annual ATF and there will be over 300 booths and more than 1,500 delegates are expected to attend. Delegates will include top government officials, industry policy makers, private business and the media.
Cambodia hosting the meeting breaks with the previously strict tradition of alphabetical rotation in choosing the annual venue. Technically Malaysia was due to hold the event in 2003. Now they will have to wait an additional year before taking their turn. Hosting such international events does not come cheap. The estimated cost for Cambodia hosting the forum will be $2.6 million: a cost that they hope to reimburse from those exhibiting, according to Thong Khon, the Secretary of State for Tourism. With tourism growing hugely it is no doubt a wise investment. In 2001 the figure was 466,000 tourists and in 2003 they hope to reach the figure of one million. Realizing that the biggest draw is the temples of Angkor the government is trying to attract attention to other destinations within the kingdom. Former Khmer Rouge strongholds are being given a make over in preparation for the masses. Pol Pot's house and cremation site will be on the list of things to do.
Visit Cambodia Year will be an important focus for the international community on Cambodia. As in the past, catchphrases and slogans are used to market the individual countries. In 2003 the slogan for Cambodia is: "A World of Treasures." In anticipation of the influx of tourism several areas are being upgraded. Most notably the airport that has been receiving a much-needed renovation. This will be finished in time to welcome delegates for the ATF and tourists alike. The project should be finished by the end of this year.
Construction is also taking place on the West bank of the Tonle Sap, in Hun Sen Park. The idea being that this is where the Forum itself will be held in a purpose built facility. Already this building is clearly visible from the Phnom Penh waterfront. Rumours of alternate venues abound.
Another development will be a large increase in the number of welcome and directional signs. These will be at each gateway and provincial border along the national routes. A much needed and highly acclaimed move, these signposts will provide accurate information for tourists and locals alike. Reports suggest that there is a degree of corporate interest in sponsoring these signs. For anyone reading who wishes to sponsor a sign please call 023-213-133, or email: service@reddotcam.com for more information. An un-missable chance to ensure exposure during this promotional year. There is a lot of activity within the kingdom to prepare for this important global event. Prime Minister, Hun Sen, is quoted as saying that: "We have time to improve infrastructure and bring facilities up to scratch"