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Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of National Committee for Clean City Assessment (NCCA) At “Energy Wise: Exploring Prospects for Energy Efficiency in Cambodia & Indochina”

Opening Remarks by
H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of National Committee for Clean City Assessment (NCCA)
“Energy Wise: Exploring Prospects for Energy Efficiency in
Cambodia & Indochina”, 26 November 2013

- Excellency Mr. Eric Sidgwick, Country Director, Cambodia Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank
- Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today, I am greatly honored and pleased to attend with Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen today’s significant workshop entitled “Energy Wise: Exploring Prospects for Energy Efficiency in Cambodia & Indochina” that is part of the ADB’s Southeast Asia Energy Efficiency Initiative.

On this occasion, on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, the National Committee for Clean City Assessment (NCCA) and on my own behalf, I would like to voice my profound thanks to ADB for initating such an important initiative within the regional framework and to all participants, especially business owners, decision-makers and managers, for spending their invaluable time to participate in this workshop.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Under the sound and brilliant leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Cambodia has fully peace, security, and the development of all sectors. Namely, tourism sector has remarkably developed over the period of this last decade.

In 2014, the Asian Development Bank expects growth in GDP to pick up across all of Indochina. In fact, the highest projected growth is expected in Lao at 7.7%, Cambodia at 7.5% and Myanmar at 6.8%.

I am pleased to share with you that the tourism sector in Indochina is booming. For example, in the first quarter of 2013, Lao saw tourism arrivals increase by 15% on the previous year, to nearly a million visitors. The picture is the same in Cambodia; more than 3.5 million international tourists arrived in 2012, with 24% percent rise year-on-year, while the number of domestic tourists has surpassed the 8 million mark with an increase rate of 14%. For the first 9 months of 2013, we have received more than 3 million of international tourist arrivals that are up by 19% when compared to the same period in 2012. Cambodia is predicted to greet 4 million international tourists in 2013, and following the forecasts we will receive about 4.8 to 5 million international tourists in 2015, and 7 to 7.5 million in 2020 with US$ 5 billion revenue and creating approximately 800 000 direct jobs.

In Cambodia, the financial sector is responding to the growth, and we have seen bank credit for construction rising by 45% over the year from June 2012 to June 2013. Furthermore, construction project approvals are also on the rise in 2013. From this we can see that more investment in the hospitality industry is expanding to meet expected demand for tourism accommodation. Now, we have 479 hotels, more than 1300 guest houses, and many more other types of accommodation.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Along with the rapid growth of tourists’ flow in the world as into the Kingdom of Cambodia, we must have an appropriate and well-managed tourism management plan, requiring for high attention from relevant stakeholders which includes the development of cities as Eco cities, and Eco-friendly facilities such as the development and improvement of environmentally friendly resources especially the renewable energy resources. The attention has also been reflected through the current tourist trends, while the whole world has been stepping forwards the Green Era. Namely, the green concept is very basically important. The Clean and Green Development Model is a wise and proper choice at present, through ensuring the socio-economic, environmental and cultural sustainability and balance, particularly the green tourism development is the perfect and wisest choice for tourism development. Tourism has a real interest in protecting the environment and a huge potential for the green economy as its assets are the ones we need to preserve and enhance. It is certain that the green tourism is a travel and use of resources serving the responsible tourism development, especially ensuring minimizing the negative impact on natural and cultural resources.

In order to efficiently respond to the current needs and trends of the green development particularly ensure the sustainable development and contribute to poverty alleviation, it requires participation from all related stakeholders and the business operation with Environmentally Responsible Choice. Besides public effort, the private sector has to contribute to the sustainable development by changing their business pattern – taking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into consideration toward green development. Meanwhile, I would like to appeal to all tourism operators such as, accommodation services, transportation services, food services, resorts, hotels and all tourism-related businesses to consider not only on the economic profit but also on the environmental and cultural preservation. While certain of UNTWO-recognized studies shows that:

  • The tourists’ travelling choice is even more environmentally friendly.
  • Approximately 34% of travelers dare to pay higher than usual for staying in the environmentally friendly hotels.
  • About 52% of travelers booked the company consisting of tourism professional codes of conduct and ethics, which ensures the environmental preservation or their employees’ better working condition or local community development, etc.

This workshop is timely organized to go along with Cambodia’s green tourism development plan, as the Royal Government of Cambodia has set forth the competitive movement “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service” to be aimed at making Cambodia become a beautiful tourist destination with cleanliness and greenness. And, presently we have the Clean City Standard (consisting of 7 basic indicators, divided into 33 detailed indicators and 77 criteria for scoring the candidacy cities). The works of arrangement and management on environment, cleanliness, waste management, awareness raising, green areas, health safety, urban security and orders, tourist infrastructure and facilities are mostly the major topics to be used for assessing and scoring the city candidates. Within the framework of Clean City Contest, we encourage the use of renewable energy and environmentally friendly vehicles, and most importantly the commitment towards the development of Eco-Friendly Tourism Facilities such as Green Hotel, Green Homestay, Green Guest house, Green Restaurant, and Green Resort.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Specifically, the importance of Energy Services extends beyond the tourism market; indeed we see evidence of many decision makers tapping into the growing industrial, construction and tourism markets. It is clear that Energy Efficiency has multiple benefits for not only the tourism sector, but also other economic sectors in Cambodia in general because:

  • By reducing energy imports, it reduces the foreign exchange spent and;
  • It increases competitiveness by reducing overall costs and increasing operational efficiencies.

If we can create the same amount of product with less energy than we are using now (or more output with the same amount of energy), or we can comfortably cater for our customers using less energy than we are now (or more customers using the same amount of energy), then profits will increase, and greenhouse gas emissions per unit will decrease. This will contribute to the protection of the natural environment, which is one of the attractions of Cambodia as a tourism destination.

I would like to reaffirm that this ADB’s initiative, conforming to the Royal Government’s policy of developing responsible and sustainable tourism known as the Green Tourism development, is very important because it is providing valuable information and examples of how energy services companies can help businesses invest in making their buildings and facilities more efficient.

The detailed case studies presented today will be useful to Cambodian businesses and serve as examples for how they can take advantage of energy efficiency opportunities.

I strongly believe that, with today’s workshop, we will be able to learn more about energy service companies and how their business models can help us attract capital and expertise to invest in making our infrastructure energy more efficient.

Before closing my remarks, May I wish Excellencies, Distinguished participants, Ladies, and Gentlemen the four gems of Buddhist blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

May I declare the workshop opening from now onwards.

Thank you!

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