By Soy Sophea
Ho Vandy, 36, has a wealth of experience related to the tourism industry in Cambodia. These experiences lead him to be nominated President of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA) in 2003. He will forfeit this position at the end of 2008.
“It was an amazing position with lots of responsibilities,” he said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly December 24, at his office in Phnom Penh.
Pointing to the Cambodian tourism promotion banners, Vandy described himself as being lucky and looked back with affection on his years of service to the cause of Cambodian tourism.
The President said that Cambodia is rich in cultural materials and tourism facilities including thousands of ancient temples that are valued worldwide, for they represent some of the finest examples of such ancient architecture.
“The Angkor complex is just one reason why I expect Cambodia to become a top flight cultural and eco-tourist destination in the next five to ten years,” he told the Cambodia Weekly. Vandy, who has run World Express Tours & Travel Company since 1999, said that he would be of little value to his nation if he could not promote its tourist attractions.
He noted that Japan is the one of the strongest of the G7 economies and would play a key role in strengthening the tourist sector in Cambodia, within the wider context of other ASEAN nations. He noted that nation’s rich record in trading, investment and of course tourism. He believed that any investment from Japanese entrepreneurs in this sector would pay some very healthy returns.
In describing his job, he said that tourism provides a link that connects a wide range of professional and social activities including farming, fishing, transport services and souvenir manufacture and sale. They are all connected by the opportunities for development offered by a healthy tourist sector.
“What I want now is to encourage all Cambodian people to take part in both visible and invisible tourist activities to encourage visitors to the “Kingdom of Wonder,” he said. “As everyone knows, tourism is an industry which creates employment opportunities in all corners of the nation; that is why we want to encourage local communities to play their part in attracting tourists.”
Vandy said that based on world tourism figures described in a recent report published by the World Tourism Organization, there are 900 million regular tourists, flying the holiday routes to various destinations. 150 million of these are regular visitors to East Asia and the pacific region. In conjunction with current trends in world tourism, Cambodia welcomed over 2 million International Visitors in 2008, an increase of 20% compared to 2006.
“At the same time, there is a noticeable increase in domestic tourism. This comes as a result of mighty efforts on the behalf of the Royal Government. They have ensured security, stability and social order undertaken a program of infrastructure development. This includes improvements made to the national road system, bridge building and port and airport improvement works,” he said.
There are also efforts being made to strengthen the quality of services to keep abreast of accepted world standards adopted by the tourist sector. Cambodia being a country of 14 million people has much potential and a ready made market for internal tourism. The skilled and experienced officers of CATA are trying hard to develop the travel sector so that it excels in all aspects.
CATA has promised explore the possibility of new tourist destinations within Cambodia. The organization is making the most of information technology to make sure that as many world travelers as possible have access to information on the attractions of Cambodia.
Vandy also Co-Chairs the Tourism Working Group (Government & Private Sectors Forum) and is an Advisor to the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC). He holds qualifications in Management and postgraduate qualifications in Political Science. He is the proud father of two.