Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the 6th Sea Festival in Kep Province [Unofficial Translation]

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Sea Festival to Organize Every Year; Next Time in Koh Kong

On behalf of the Royal Government and my own, I am delivering my warmest welcome to presences of Samdech, Excellency, Ladies, and Gentlemen who have come from every part of our country to enjoy the 6th sea festival held in Kep province. I wish to take this chance to extend my warmest welcome to the presence of our friends and artists coming from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, India, Indonesia, China, and those artists of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We are celebrating the sea festival every year and the whole country is working on it together, not just the provinces that are bordering with sea. It is an opportune moment for our people in the whole country to get together.

That we have so many stands exhibiting various goods and works of various institutions indicates a general understanding of progress of our country. Our people are getting together to celebrate sea festival every year in rotation of provinces along the sea as they are doing so for Sangkranta in Siem Reap. Today, we all are pleased to celebrate once again, after we did so last year in the province of Preah Sihanouk. Next year we hope to meet again in the province of Koh Kong […]

Green Beach, Future is Present

I am taking this chance to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to efforts made by Minister Thaong Khon of Tourism, related institutions, especially the Ministries of Trade, Culture and Fine Arts, as well as provincial governing council for such a wonderful celebration. I also share my appreciation and thanks with authorities of every level. Here in Kep, we have a female district governor and city mayor, which clearly encourages our vision on gender and future leader of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We are gathering here today at our beautiful beach in Kep. This year we are celebrating this event under the slogan “sustainable tourism for development” under the theme “green beach, future is present.” This topic covers various aspects of the present and future.

Breathing No Oxygen Provided Anyone

We are celebrating this event to reflect progress of our economy. I wish to deliver a clear political message that “Cambodia is not breathing oxygen provided by anyone.” Cambodia is a man with nose and mouth. Yesterday, the Cabinet’s meeting met to review progress of Cambodian economy, in which a report has shown that service sector in present day Cambodia contributes a share of 45% to the country’s GDP. Industry landed at 30.1%, while agriculture picked up 25%. This has also indicated that Cambodia is not producing only one or two products by many. I am so proud of the works we have done and so much that we have achieved for local supply and also exports to foreign market.

Tourism – Prioritized Sector and Green Gold

This has also manifested progress of national economy, and it has also singled out a share of 13% from tourism to the country’s GDP. We also consider tourism our country’s prioritized sector, a green gold, that we all are taking responsible efforts for its promotion. For this year, as we are still counting, tourist arrival to the Kingdom of Cambodia is over 5.6 million. It is a reasonably big number. However, we are not satisfied with it. We are doing whatever we can to get to our goal that is to receive some seven million tourists by 2020. Tourism plays an important part in providing jobs, trades, incomes, and our efforts to help our people to export their produces on the spot […] arrivals of 5.6 million tourists this year have provided opportunity for our people to sell them food, meat raised, and fruits grown in the Kingdom of Cambodia through hotels in the country. That is the concept of exporting on the spot.

Beautiful Beaches and Magnificent Temples Draw Nil to over Five Millions Tourists

… Although Cambodia is still a poor country, it has become owner of its destiny. Cambodia is recognized as one of the most beautiful beaches countries in the world. We have issued a slogan “rising star in the Southwest,” which should cover provinces of Kompot, Kep, Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong. We should see these progresses, development, and especially initiatives and ownership of our officials and people. I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to authorities of every level, national and sub-national institutions, our people residing along the sea, and other tourist destinations in the whole country for their contribution to guaranteeing development in this sector. Beautiful beaches has added to what we are famous of – ancient temples such as Angkor Wat, Sambo Prey Kuh, Preah Vihear, Koh Ke, etc., left by our ancestors, Kings and Queens in the Kingdom. They have attracted tourists that we started from having none to over five millions, from few small and outdated hotels left from wars and Pol Pot’s regime to hundreds of them.

Places for Local Tourists to Stay

I have learnt that Kep is short of hotels and guesthouses. Some have had to travel back to Kompot and the Bokor resort to find available accommodations. Last year, I recommended the province of Preah Sihanouk to look for and prepare public spaces to accommodate local tourists in event like sea festival. It is not something to do only for the province of Preah Sihanouk but for every provinces that we are celebrating in rotation the sea festival. People may have means of transport to come join the festivities but they may not be able to find provisional accommodations.

It is in this understanding, I have the need to provide some recommendations for which we are making efforts to continue to move ahead with the theme “green beach, future is present: sustainable tourism for development” and the concept of “rising star in the southwest of the country.”

Permanent Presence of Peace and Permanent Absence of War

Firstly, we must secure a permanent presence of peace and permanent absence of war and turmoil. It is the first and foremost point relating to development of all nations in the world. You may see that no tourists would risk to visit countries in war. You may look at Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Yemen – were there any tourists visiting them? Look back into Cambodian history, were there any tourists visiting us in time that we were at war? Even in 1994, three foreign tourists – French, British and Australian, were abducted and killed at Phnom Voar. That was a real happening in Cambodia. As of present, tourists can travel anywhere in our country. They can visit any places they wish to free of fear.

It is in this understanding that we must have peace and keep peace as preconditions for other development. I wish to say that a permanent presence of peace and a permanent absence of war is critical and we must not allow anyone to create turmoil. Were there no peace, there would not be development, respect of human rights, and democracy. I am calling on the Cambodian people in the whole Kingdom to unite together to keep our hard-won peace. This pitiful country of ours has suffered more than enough. We should not allow anyone country or group to destroy peace and we must, at any cost, keep peace to guarantee development.

Maintaining Status of Rising Star in the Southwest

Secondly, we must maintain our status of a country with one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the rising star in the southwest, mainly the four provinces bordering with sea. We all must make efforts to safeguard interest of our country and people as I said in one of my speeches on 17 July 2017 to welcome accession of the Sambo Prey Kuh temple as one of the world heritages – “let us not kill a hen to feast our taste but to keep it for many generations to come.” We must make further efforts to safeguard beaches, forests, environment and nature. Just now I have seen a water treatment system that cleans waste water before reaching to sea. We continue to keep our sea and beaches clean. No one would want to take a bath or play in water that would infest them with diseases. I am placing hope on local authority and people for the understanding of long-term interest of the country.

More Infrastructures for Tourism

Thirdly, continue to build necessary infrastructures, which includes airports, roads, clean water, electricity, hotels, resorts, etc., to serve tourism purpose. We still need more of these. Take for instance in Kep and Kompot, we still have problem of water supply, though we have solved their needs for electricity. We must focus our efforts on supplying clean water for the two provinces. As far as connectivity is concerned, land, rail, and air, we have already made tremendous efforts to connect the central parts and other tourist sites to Preah Sihanouk, and in the future, Koh Kong. Direct flight from abroad to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Preah Sihanouk, has been our efforts to provide chances for tourists who visit temples in inner part of the country to also have a chance to visit and enjoy nature at sea […]

Paying Attention on Security and Public Order

Fourthly, I recommend that we pay attention on issues of security and public order. It is another important matter. Peace is important at a macro level. Public order is but another both at macro and micro levels. In every tourist sites, we must make efforts to keep security, public order, and stop and prevent drugs, gangsters, thefts, robberies, which could be detrimental to local and foreign tourist activities. I am calling on every tourist site to safeguard tourists and keep our beaches and sea safe, and no shelters to drug and human trafficking agents, as well as cross-border criminals. We must cooperate with neighboring countries, especially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Thailand, to guarantee that groups involved in illegal activities, terrorists included, are not present here […] and using our country as base for their activities in other countries, tourist destinations in Cambodia too.

Production for Local Exports

Finally, my recommendation is to produce to supply for local export for tourism industry. Our people have more chances of feeding over five million tourists. We must promote and ensure standard productions to serve requirements in tourism. We must set up a greenbelt around tourism areas. I mean to promote growing vegetables, and conducting animal husbandry. We would be able to save currency that is flowing into the Kingdom of Cambodia or they would flow outback for supplies that we import for hotels. We also need to train our people to produce handicraft objects that is answering to tourist demands.

I am asking hotels in the Kingdom of Cambodia to purchase those produces and objects from our people to serve tourist demands. This should be a contribution for the tourist development and poverty alleviation goals. At the same time, we must train our people to make handicraft objects that symbolize Cambodian identity to sell as souvenirs for tourists […] I have received so many presents and souvenirs from many exhibition stands and I am sure tourists would also want them.

Sustainable Tourism for Works, Trades, Local Exports

These are some recommendations that I think are still valid and I understand that we must continue to observe actions according to recommendations that I listed out at the previous sea festival at the province of Preah Sihanouk. We work together to continue tourist development and to create jobs, trades, and income for our people. Tourism will help alleviate poverty and promote local exports. Once again, I thank you for your participations. There is going to be a festivity tonight by artists from the Kingdom of Cambodia. My colleagues and I will stay here for the event and perhaps we can dance together tonight. I am declaring the opening of the sea festival under the theme – “green beaches, future is present: sustainable tourism for development” in the province of Kep […]./.