National flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air and global travel service provider Group have entered into a strategic cooperation memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote Cambodia as a “key global destination”, the latter said in a statement late last week.

The MoU was penned on May 24 in Singapore by Flight Business Group CEO and Group vice-president Tan Yudong and Cambodia Angkor Air CEO and vice-chairman David Zhan, the statement noted.

Under the MoU, the partners plan “to promote the construction of a smart airport [as well as a] tourism talent training programme” for Cambodia, it said.

“Against the backdrop of the new [Siem Reap-] Angkor International Airport [SAI], both parties will strengthen work in various tourism areas. By leveraging Group’s global user network and leading product capacity, Cambodia Angkor Air can increase its global market reach and enhance its quality of services.

“As part of the collaboration, Group will improve [SAI’s] digital and intelligent services, and help the airport become an essential smart airport in the region.

“Both parties will further embark on marketing campaigns and cooperation in hotel development, travel visa services and tourism talent training programmes in both countries. This will further strengthen Cambodia’s efforts towards becoming a globally competitive destination,” it added.

Cambodia Angkor Air chairman and Minister attached to the Prime Minister Tekreth Samrach, who witnessed the signing ceremony, underscored that Siem Reap province’s new airport would be “essential to Cambodia’s global tourism strategy”.

“We hope to grasp the opportunity of global tourism revival, and closely work with Group to carry out comprehensive cooperation, from constructing smart airports to enhancing our services for more travellers,” the statement quoted him as saying. Group chief operating officer Xiong Xing believes that the new airport and resurgence of international travel will provide “tremendous opportunities” for the Cambodian tourism sector.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Cambodia Angkor Air to support Cambodia in achieving its full global market potential and linking it with the international tourism industry,” he was quoted as saying.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan hailed the partnership as a step in the right direction for both parties in promoting the Kingdom to the world, considering the variety of tourism services that Group’s flagship digital platform offers travellers across the globe.

“The two companies will promote Cambodia’s image and draw in more visitors. The platform will also make it simple for tourists to plan their journey,” he said.

The Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is expected to be operational in October, and have an annual passenger capacity of seven million initially, 10 million by 2030, and 20 million by 2050.

Mainland China remains one of Cambodia’s most important sources of inbound travellers. According to the Ministry of Tourism, this market accounted for 2.362 million – or 35.73 per cent – of the 6.611 million international visitors to Cambodia in 2019.

Earlier this year, the Cambodian government rolled out the “China Ready” strategy in an effort to bring in more Chinese tourists.