Friday, January 16, 2009

Where are the Middle Eastern tourists?

I was musing how I have not seen or met a single tourist from the Middle East. Because Siem Reap draws in tourists from all over the world who come to see Angkor Wat, I meet foreigners all the time, recently a few from Chile (on working holidays in Australia), Polish, Danish and even a couple of young American women who live in Mongolia as teachers. But I have never met anyone from the Middle East (I have met a lovely American couple who live in Bahrain but that's another story).

About 2 percent of last year's 2.15 million visitors to Cambodia come from the Middle East, reports That works out to 43,000 people. Where are these people? How can I be so blind as not to see them walking around town? In Malaysian resorts, I would see Arabs all the time. They like holidaying in Malaysia because Malaysia is a Muslim country. I remember once when I tried parasailing in Penang, there was an Arab woman in her black Hijab (the Arabic word for "curtain / cover") and jeans who wanted to have a go.

Anyway, tourism Minister Thong Korn said he believed more tourists from the Middle East would be coming to Cambodia. Perhaps many from Kuwait, as Hun Sen is currently in Kuwait to ink deals, including a tourism agreement, an agreement to initiate direct flights and a memorandum of understanding for the construction of an irrigation system and a hydropower project in Kampong Thom province. The last project is worth more than USD300 million.

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah visited Cambodia in August 2008 and during that trip, the oil-rich country pledged nearly $550 million (the second-biggest aid pledge ever received by Cambodia) in agricultural loans in exchange for food supplies. Kuwait also agreed to provide Cambodian officials with technical training for the petroleum industry, according to the Post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I cut and pasted this onto Virtual Touist. SD


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