Phnom Penh (FN), June 21 — Prime Minister Hun Sen called on specialized banks and microfinance institutions in Cambodia to promote tourism by providing low-interest loans to Cambodian students to pursue tourism education and skills.

The request was made when Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over the closing ceremony of the second International Conference on ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP) under the theme of “Human Resource Development for Sustainable Tourism”, held from 20-21 June, 2018 at Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel.

"I would like to call on specialized banks to participate in training human resources by providing low-interest loans for students who wish to study tourism,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodia welcomed many tourists, thanks to the smooth relations with neighbors and ASEAN countries. Cambodia needs to train and improve human resource capacity in response to the rapid growth of tourism sector.

He ordered Minister of Tourism Thong Khon to work with the banks and microfinance institutions to ensure that students could further pursue tourism education and that the banks would benefits from the low-interest loans at the end of the day.

The premier said that the government considered tourism sector as a green gold and a fixed exports, which contribute to economic development by creating job opportunities; attracting investment; promoting the preservation and conservation of cultural and natural values; reducing global warming; and ensuring Cambodia’s sustainable development.

Tourism is also an important factor to boost globalization, regional integration, and links between nations and nations. Due to the significance of tourism, the Royal Government of Cambodia has determined her own tourism development policy with the vision “clean and green” based on sustainability and accountability that reflects the concept of development and conservation.

Despite global instability, global economic and financial crises, threats of terrorism and epidemics, global tourism continues to grow remarkably. In 2017, the world welcomed 1.3 billion international tourists, an increase of 7%, according to the premier.

He added that the global tourism sector contributes to 10% of GDP, as there is one job in tourism sector of 10 employments. Global tourism accounts for 30% of service export and 7% of total exports, ranking the third following petroleum the first and chemical products the second.

The world is expected to welcome more than 1.4 billion international tourists in 2020 and 1.8 billion by 2030.

In 2017, the ASEAN region welcomed 125 million international tourists, an increase of 8.4%, generating $93 billion revenue in total.

In 2017, Cambodia alone welcomed 5.6 million international tourists, an increase of 11.8%. By 2020, Cambodia expects to receive around 7 million international tourists, 10 million international tourists by 2025, and 15 million by 2030.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the growth of Cambodian tourism resulted from a "win-win policy” which allowed Cambodia to enjoy,  peace, national reconciliation, unity, and social security that are fundamental to all sectors development.

Along with economic progress, Cambodia has been actively participating in the world's major international organizations to promote global development, peace and prosperity.  Prime Minister added that cooperation in tourism was further strengthened through the ASEAN Tourism Agreement, which was approved and signed by the top leaders of ASEAN at the Fourth ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh. The agreement has become a compass that paves way for tourism development at both the region and the region.