What's New
( September, 2001 Volume 1 No.4 )

Cultural Calendar

Cultural events will come thick and fast for tourists and visitors to the kingdom from now until the first month of next year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts Culture Development Department and National Cultural Center (NCC) director, Mr Dek Sarin. He said the NCC, located opposite the Buddhist Institute and south of the Hotel Cambodiana Phnom Penh, was fully booked and the ministry was very excited about the line-up it is scheduled to provide. On September 7, there will be a ceremony to honor Neak Ta Klaing Moeurng, the spirit of the famous late 16th century Khmer commander. The event will be held at the National Cultural Center. The 80th Birthday of His Majesty King Sihanouk (October 31), which coincides with Water Festival (from October 29 to November 1), will see the first taing tok (table display) since 1995 held at the site. A taing tok is a sort of provincial and municipal trade fair, where each of the 24 provinces, Phnom Penh municipality and selected private companies display their prime produce. The taing tok is being organized by the ministry's Culture Development Department. The Fifth Annual Kite Flying Contest will be held on November 30, bringing together Cambodia's most skilled kite makers. Cambodia is world famous for its kites, especially its musical kites. December 7 sees the Memorial Day of Grand Poet Kram Ngoy, a famous 19th century Khmer poet. The Khmer Fashion Show, originally scheduled for August 24, has been rescheduled by the ministry and will now take place on December 24. The Third Annual Khmer Food Contest, the Photographic Art Contest (featuring photos and artistic works from Khmer contestants, professional and amateur, nationwide) and the Khmer Martial Arts Show will all take place on January 12, 2002. More details are available on request from the front office of the NCC.

Phnom Penh Facelift

Two major government bodies will work together to make Phnom Penh a more beautiful city, according to their respective chiefs. The Municipality of Phnom Penh and the Ministry of Tourism said this month that they would work together to beautify the city in preparation for the ASEAN Tourism Forum scheduled for 2003. During a July 9 inspection of the municipal tourism development worksite, across the river from the Royal Palace, Governor Chea Sophara said that the municipality wanted to clean up the city and turn the riverside Tonle Sap area into a tourist park. Minister of Tourism, Veng Sereyvuth, also issued a statement stressing a commitment to cooperation between his institution and the municipality in anticipation of the large numbers of international guests expected in Phnom Penh for the conference, which is expected to last about 10 days. Chea Sophara said the city has land but no money for construction so the Ministry of Tourism has said it will use its funds to build a tourist center. The building is expected to cover about 9,000 square meters and include 450 exhibition booths, a large meeting hall, boardrooms and office space.
ultural tourism talks Foreign partnerships and investment and human resources will be two key areas to develop in the lead-up to the ASEAN Tourism Forum and Visit Cambodia Year in 2003, according to Cambodian and international tourism experts. Government officials involved with tourism met in a national seminar on cultural tourism at the Royal School of Administration on July 3 to share positive experiences and comment on tourism at both local and international levels. Seminar participants included senior officials from the National Tourism Authorities, the Ministries of Tourism, Culture and Fine Arts and Environment, experts and consultants from UNESCO and World Tourism Organization, professional tourism bodies from Lebanon, Tunisia, and France, and representatives of travel and tour agencies in Cambodia. The seminar was organized by the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO and jointly sponsored by the Apsara Authority and the UNESCO Office in Cambodia. Participants discussed measures to prepare the country to cope with the current tourism boom, with tourist numbers expected to continue to rise by up to 30 per cent annually.
Cambodia's most pressing tourism commitments are the upcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum and Visit Cambodia Year 2003. Major topics included management strategies for the Angkor complex, among other tourist destinations, and ways to improve basic tourism infrastructure while ensuring the country's sustainable cultural and natural development. Recommendations included a speedy reinforcement of local roads leading from tourist destinations to the national highways, a sound management of profits generated in order to ensure sustainable development, development of master plans for the management of each attraction, and the launch of a program to raise awareness of tourism values and conservation issues among local people. Participants also urged the government to involve foreign investors in feasible projects, increase human resource training programs, adopt and develop more tourism draft laws and regulations, and look at strategies to promote eco-tourism.

Busy Month For State Visits

Not one but two important international figures toured Cambodia's major historical and cultural sites in July. A delegation from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, headed by Mr Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples Assembly, enjoyed an audience with King Sihanouk before touring the National Museum and Silver Pagoda and viewing a performance by the Royal Ballet. They also flew to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat and the Bayon temple. Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and 20 of her students also included Cambodia in their two-day official visit to Cambodia, which began on July 15. The princess, who is the third child of the King and Queen of Thailand is Director of History at Chulachumklae Royal Military Academy in Bangkok. The Cambodian leg of the delegation's tour included the temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Phimean Akas in Siem Reap province, and the National Museum, the Tuol Sleng Museum and Psar Thom Thmei Market in Phnom Penh. The princess is a regular traveler to Cambodia. In May this year the princess visited Prasat Koh Ker in Preah Vihear province. In February she headed a 60-member entourage, which traveled to the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap province.