31st World Tourism Day: Tourism and Biodiversity

Mr. Song Sophoat, Deputy Director of Academic Foundation Department (AFD) at the University of Cambodia, joined distinguished guests from the different ministries, representatives from tourism organizations, foreign guests, and other university representatives for the 31st World Tourism Day on September 27, 2010, at Phnom Penh Hotel. The theme of the event was “Tourism and Biodiversity” and follows that of celebrations around the world, as proclaimed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The focus of the celebration was to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity to tourism in individual countries, as well as the role of sustainable tourism in the conservation of diverse life forms.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen delivered a keynote address at the event and stressed the interrelationship between responsible environmental protection and socioeconomic development in Cambodia. In particular, he believes that people must cooperate at local, regional, and international levels to promote conservation of natural resources and healthy ecosystems, and that these efforts have a positive effect on economic growth and sustainability, especially in Cambodia.

“Ecological biodiversity is an invaluable resource treasure serving and sustaining tourism development,” declared the Prime Minister.

Protecting the environment is important, he insisted, because many tourists are attracted to visiting Cambodia for the purposes of exploring the country’s ecosystem, along with its rich cultural heritage. Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen also pointed out that tourism generates a significant source of revenue for Cambodian communities and creates many jobs for its citizens, which contributes to the socioeconomic growth of the country. Given that the tourism industry is one of the main drivers of Cambodia’s economic growth, there is a need for the country to prioritize and value conservation efforts, especially if it hopes to attract an increasing number of foreign tourists.

Next, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen drew attention to the need for all citizens to be invested in biodiversity and conservation efforts: “To foster the conservation of natural resources requires education and public awareness strengthening to local communities, local authorities, the private sector, and all key stakeholders about the value of. . .[the ecosystem]. . .and the impact of their actions.”

Our actions have a lasting impact on the environment and there is global attention on environmental issues that affect every country around the world. Climate change and global warming are growing concerns for people here and aboard, and these environmental problems will have economic, social, and political implications for countries worldwide, including Cambodia. The Prime Minister expressed his belief that conservation of natural resources and environmental protection efforts are inextricably linked to the development of Cambodia (and to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals).
In his concluding remarks, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen appealed to the audience to continue supporting and contributing to the development of Cambodia’s tourism industry through responsible conservation practices.

After the event, Mr. Song Sophoat said, “I strongly hope that there will be more and more tourists increasingly coming to visit our country based on the tourism development strategy of the Royal Government, and our participation in promoting the slogan, ‘Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service,’ to further develop Cambodia, a Kingdom of Wonder.”

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