As Cambodia is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in Southeast Asia, it was very obvious and expected that the 2nd Cambodia Travel Mart (CTM) 2018, held from 11th-13th October at the Diamond Island Exhibition and Convention Center in Phnom Penh, will be a huge success. Organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Kingdom of Cambodia, in co-operation with SlickBooth Events and Public Relations, Cambodia, and TTG Asia Media, Singapore, this year’s event attracted some 170 sellers, 110 buyers and 20 media delegates, much more than during the 1st CTM 2017 in Siem Reap last year.
Actually, there was a pre-show full day city tour on 10th October for registered delegates, who visited the impressive Royal Palace compound, the National Museum of Cambodia, and the duty-free shop at the illustrious NagaWorld Hotel complex in the morning, while the notorious Tuol Sleng Prison Museum, the Central Market or Phsar Thmey, and a Mekong sunset boat trip were done in the afternoon. In the evening, the Cambodia Travel Mart Host Committee had the pleasure to request the presence of invited delegates for the welcome dinner reception at Yi Sang the garden, Tuol Kork, hosted by “almond group” and Vietnam Airlines. H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia, was the guest-of-honor and heartily welcomed personally the attending delegates.
On the first day of CTM, there was the official ribbon cutting ceremony to open CTM 2018, after which H.E. Chea Sophara, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, gave an opening speech as the very high representative of Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia, who was on a visit in Indonesia. In this speech, the Deputy Prime Minister mentioned the last election, which was held in a timely, free and fair manner and where more than 83% of eligible voters turned out in droves at all polling stations throughout the country with pleasure, dignity, and great responsibility. By achieving annual economic growth of around 7%, Cambodia is mainly engaged in agriculture, industry, construction, and tourism. Especially in tourism, the country has experienced a remarkable growth and has received 5.6 million international visitors in 2017, a nearly 12% growth from the previous year. Thus, the Royal Government of Cambodia will focus heavily on digitization, in order to embrace positive development and effective poverty reduction, as well as is prepared to receive 15 million international visitors in 2030.
After the opening speech, there followed a media briefing by representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, where it was revealed that Cambodia will become a heaven for retirees by developing its infrastructure for “green eco-tourism” and diversifying second destinations along “Angkor” in the north and “Sihanoukville” in the south. In the afternoon was the destination seminar “Taiwan: The Heart of Asia” by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Bangkok Office and some art performances.
In the evening, H.E. Dr. Thong Khon cordially invited the distinguished delegates to the grand opening gala dinner at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra.
On the second day of CTM 2018, there was a seminar on “gastronomy tourism” featuring Cambodia’s Master Chef Luu Meng, who experiences with his country’s native herbs and spices as well as makes experiments with flavors to dig deep into the countries culinary secrets from the 24 different provinces of Cambodia. Actually, Cambodia’s food is a kind of hidden gem in Southeast Asia’s cuisine. Under the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79), the original Cambodian cuisine was totally wiped out, but was brought back to life again. Consequently, cooking classes, wine-tasting and organic farms start to abound everywhere. Media delegates had the chance to taste some spicy dishes and dessert at a special “Malis” restaurant booth at the mart. In the evening, it was possible to attend the networking function hosted by Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh, with free flow of drinks.
The last day of CTM 2018 saw the destination seminar “Mekong Tourism” conducted by Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) in Bangkok. Mekong Tourism comprises the six countries of Cambodia, China (Yunnan and Guangxi), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. Highlighted were responsible tourism projects in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), Mekong Collection Showcases, Mekong Tourism Strategy, Mekong Moments and Mekong Minis. For further information, please go to: www.mekongtrends.com
Finally, there came the exciting CTM farewell party hosted by the urban Sun & Moon Hotel, where a buffet was offered with drinks. H.E. So Mara, Secretary of State from the Ministry of Tourism, was attending the event and had invited some of the beautiful “apsara” dancers, who made it difficult to say goodbye to Cambodia. Some of the delegates joined the 3D/2N post-show tour programs to Siem Reap, Battambang or Sihanoukville. Last not least, the following exhibition booths need to get mentioned (in alphabetical order) to come back for the 3rd CTM in October 2019 to be held in Phnom Penh again:
- Amazing Thailand: www.tourismthailand.org
- Cambodia Airports: www.corp.cambodia-airports.aero
- Cambodia Angkor Air: www.cambodiaangkorair.com
- Charming Cambodia Tours: www.charmingcambodia.com
- Ibis Styles Siem Reap: www.ibis.com, www.accor.com
- Independence Hotel by Dara in Sihanoukville: www.darahotels.asia
- Knai Bang Chatt focusing on Kampot and Kep: www.knaibangchatt.com
- Korean National Tourism Office: www.visitkorea.org.vn
- Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar: www.tourism.gov.mm
- Palace Gate Hotel in Phnom Penh: www.palacegatepp.com
- Philippine Department of Tourism: www.tourism.gov.ph
- Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel: www.sokhahotels.com
Arriving in Phnom Penh on October 8 with Bangkok Airways from Chiang Mai, I had another free day on October 14 to visit the new Indian Restaurant “Indigo” at Sisowath Quay, FCC Building, before flying back from Phnom Penh to Chiang Mai on October 15.
Written by : Reinhard Hohler