Sihanoukville launches 2022 ASEAN Tourism Forum

Gareth Johnson

Sihanoukville is again hosting a major event with the kick-0ff of the 2022 ASEAN Tourism Forum (AFT 2022), the biggest tourism trade event in southeast Asia.

Sihanoukville recently hosted the East Asia Seas Congress 2021, as well as the Southeast Asian Sailing Championship, with AFT 2022 being the latest instance for the city to showcase itself to the wider world.

The event which is due to take place from the 16th-22nd January features a 187-booth TRAVEX tourism expo, meetings between senior ASEAN government ministers, as well as drawing in 2000+ plus visitors to the city.

Hotels report 100 percent occupancy

As well as being able to showcase Cambodia as a whole the event has also provided a boost to the economy of Sihanoukville, with many hoteliers stating they were at full capacity for the event.

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review, Simon Chong the GM of Prince Holding Group’s Prince Times Hotel stated “Since renovations in October we have been operating at about 70 percent capacity, but for the week of the ASEAN Tourism Forum we are back to 100 percent. This is the first time this has happened since before the beginning of the pandemic”.

Prince Times Hotel is one of around 8 hotels that are an official partners of AFT 2022, with the main event and TRAVEX being held at the prestigious Sokha Hotel.

2022 ASEAN Tourism Forum
Prince Times Hotel in Sihanoukville.

How important is the 2022 ASEAN Tourism Forum to Cambodia?

One of the themes of the event is the opening of the ASEAN region to tourism in 2022, but in actuality few nations are currently practicing any form of unrestricted tourism right now.

Singapore is open to citizens of a few select nations, Thailand recently opened and then promptly closed soon after, while Laos recently loosened restrictions for package tourists, leaving Cambodia as the only country within the bloc to have fully opened to international visitors.

In this respects the event potentially offers Cambodia a chance to showcase itself as the prime tourist destination within the region, as well as jumpstart its own tourism industry in a post-covid environment.

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