A virtual event could prove to be a real winner for the tourism industry, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. Cambodia is hosting the Asia-Europe Culture Festival from November 22-26 using online platforms. The festival will be a new channel to attract tourists and international investors to the country, according to Kim Pinun, Undersecretary of State at the ministry and also vice-chairman of the National Organizing Committee of the 13th Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM). and ASEM Side Events.

The festival is one of the side events and will include three major performances. These will be chosen from Cambodian arts such as traditional dance, Yike musical theater, art and photography exhibitions, and film screenings.

The arts are a way to connect people, Pinun said, which is why the government sees it as a huge opportunity to attract foreign visitors and investment by raising awareness of the Kingdom and its rich culture.

Dignitaries from more than 50 countries are expected to participate in the ASEM online cultural festival, titled “Asia-Europe Culture Connect”. The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Japan, Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain have all confirmed their participation according to Pinun. China and France have also expressed their wish to participate.

Other side events of the ASEM Summit include the Asia-Europe Forum on Women, Peace and Security, the 11th Meeting of the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership, the 1st Asia-Europe Economic and Business Forum and the Young Leaders Summit of ASEF.

Cambodia hopes to reopen the country to tourists as early as November, although ASEM events towards the end of the month will be held mostly online due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that the country should consider a seven-day quarantine for tourists, allowing them to leave their hotels and travel within a set limit to popular destinations such as Siem Reap.

The Kingdom was heavily dependent on tourism before the coronavirus pandemic. It contributed almost a third of the country’s economic growth in 2019.

Neighboring countries have already started to open up to foreign visitors. Thailand’s sandbox system allows fully vaccinated visitors to visit islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui. Malaysia welcomed vaccinated national visitors to Langkawi Island last week. Although foreigners are still banned, the country’s prime minister has suggested an ASEAN-plus-China travel bubble to attract overseas visitors and income. Vietnam will allow foreigners to visit Phu Quoc Island from early November.

While Cambodia does not yet issue tourist visas to foreigners, domestic travel is showing signs of recovery. More than 79,000 tourists traveled the country during the third weekend of September, 20% more than the previous weekend. More than 77,800 were Cambodians and more than 1,200 were foreigners, according to Tourism Minister Thong Khon. The most popular destinations were Phnom Penh, followed by the provinces of Kampot, Kep, Preah Sihanouk and Pursat.

  • Key words: ASEM, Asia-Europe Culture Festival