Thailand, Cambodia to boost tourism

Thailand, Cambodia to boost tourism

Thailand and Cambodia agreed on Thursday to a joint cooperation plan on tourism, but Preah Vihear temple was left out of the loop.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha walk past an honour guard after Gen Prayut arrived at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. (AFP photo)

The two countries pledged to cooperate on tourism in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in Phnom Penh by the two countries and witnessed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Premier Hun Sen.

The details of the MoU have not been released.

Gen Prayut said on Wednesday he hoped for a joint development on tourism that covered Preah Vihear, including an agreement from Phnom Penh to open the entrance to the tourist destination from the Thai border.

But Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong on Thursday rejected the idea.

"In my own opinion, currently, a lot of tourists visit the temple from Cambodia because of good roads and luxurious hotels in the surrounding area of the temple," Koy Kuong told the Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

"Therefore, I think that it is unnecessary to allow tourists to access the temple from the Thai side," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

The disputed area around the temple is the main source of border conflicts between the two countries which have claimed sovereignty over the 4.6 square kilometre plot. The area has not been demarcated and military clashes, including a serious one in 2009, often erupt as a result of the unsettled conflict.

Thailand and Cambodia also signed two MoUs to clamp down on trafficking in children and women and the construction of a rail link between the two countries.

The State Railway of Thailand started rebuilding a bridge at Khlong Luek in Aranyaprathet district, Sa Kaeo province and Poipet, in July. The bridge had stood abandoned for almost 40 years.

The railway agency will improve the deserted 6km long track between Aranyaprathet and Poipet to reconnect the two countries. The route goes on to Sisophon and Phnom Penh from the Thai border.

Cambodia is the second country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that Gen Prayut has visited after Myanmar.

The premier will hold talks with Thai investors on Friday to wrap up his two-day visit.

Hun Sen's spokesman Eang Sophalette told reporters that the two leaders did not touch on a long-running border dispute between the two countries, and focused instead on issues of bilateral cooperation, according to Kyodo News.

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