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Cambodian tour operators bank on Mondulkiri's ecotourism appeal
Liam Aran Barnes, Phnom Penh, June 12, 2012


CAMBODIA’S Ministry of Tourism and travel operators are shining the spotlight on ecotourism in the north-eastern province of Mondulkiri, after seeing an impressive increase in visitors to the region in recent years.


Tourist arrivals to Mondulkiri and its surroundings rose 17.2 per cent year-on-year to 18,288 in 1Q 2012, based on statistics from the ministry.


“We are planning to sell more packages to Mondulkiri,” said Theng Sam Dam, manager of Siem Reap-based Cambodia Tours. “Its main appeal is the scenery and trekking, which foreign tourists find particularly attractive.”


However, an undersupply of accommodation and lack of accessibility still hinder tourism development on a larger scale in the region, Theng Sam Dam said.


“People don’t want to spend a long time travelling on roads [from major tourist hubs], especially foreigners,” he added. “However, (Mondulkiri) is always very popular with domestic tourists and nearly all hotels are full during national holidays.”


Cambodian Association of Travel Agents advisor, Mohan Gunti, believes that the key to the recent rise in tourist figures is the completion of a new road linking Phnom Penh to the provincial capital of Sen Monorom.


“In addition to the road from Phnom Penh, we are going to see increased connectivity from other destinations to these new developments emerging in the region,” he said. “It’s promising to see more international tourists visit the area. People will start to visit the kingdom, not only for beach and temple tourism, but also to take advantage of our growing ecotourism sector.”    


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