Three Cambodian cities – Battambang, Kep and Siem Reap – received the Asean clean tourism award at the Asean Tourism Forum 2018, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Friday.
The distinction places the Cambodian cities in an exclusive 23-member group of the cleanest cities in
the Asean region, and is proof that they adhere to Asean’s standards for city cleanliness.
The Asean clean tourist city standards were endorsed by Cambodia in 2011 following a request by Asean during the Asean Tourism Forum in 2011, which has held in Phnom Penh. This set of standards was approved and officially implemented in 2015.
The forum this year was held under the theme “Asean sustainable connectivity, boundless prosperity”.
Cambodia had entered seven cities into the Asean clean tourism city competition – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampot, Kep, Sihanoukville, Battambang and Kampong Cham. All these locations came on top at the national clean city competition, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Uch Omthiny Sara, director of Battambang’s department of tourism, told Khmer Times yesterday that his city earned the accolade because of its high hygiene and safety standards, as well as for its low levels of air and water pollution.
“This is the first award of its kind at Asean-level, and we won it,” he said. “I’m sure the award will help attract more and more tourists to our city. It will boost our name and reputation abroad.”
Battambang is in constant competition with other cities in the kingdom to lure tourists, and this award will give it an edge, said Mr Omthiny Sara.
He also said that many only visit Battambang in transit to other tourism destinations in the kingdom or in Thailand, but now they “will probably stay longer, at least one or two nights, before heading to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or Thailand.”
This year Battambang is eyeing a new distinction at the second national clean city contest, with all efforts focused on improving hygiene and sanitation and creating more tourism events to make visitors stay longer, Mr Omthiny Sara said.
Battambang welcomed more than 590,000 visitors in 2017. 90,000 of those visitors were foreigners.
Som Chenda, the director of the tourism department in Kep, said the award puts the riverine city at the same level than other famously clean cities in the region. It will help boost the number of tourists to the city, create jobs for locals, and reduce poverty, he said.
“The award puts Kep on the map,” Mr Chenda said. “It highlights the security, order, hygiene and infrastructure development that tourist can now enjoy in Kep.”
More than 1 million locals visited Kep in 2017, while 60,000 foreigners travelled to the city during the same year.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Cambodia Chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, told Khmer Times that the award should motivate other cities and provinces in the kingdom to up their own cleanliness and safety standards.
“Other provinces in Cambodia must also work hard to adhere to the same standards,” Mr Sinan said. “Everyone must follow these winners.”
More than 5.6 million international tourists travelled to Cambodia in 2017, an increase of 11.8 percent compared to 2016.