Cambodia-India direct flight launch to 'positively affect' all areas of cooperation: Cambodian envoy

Cambodia's national flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air began the service between the two countries from June 16. It will be available four times a week -- on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Last Updated : 17 June 2024, 13:43 IST

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New Delhi: The first-ever direct flight service between Cambodia and India will "positively affect" all areas of cooperation between the two countries, and will boost tourism, trade and investment, Cambodian envoy Koy Kuong said on Monday.

The ambassador said this in an exclusive interaction with PTI on the sidelines of the launch of the "1st Cambodia-India Tourism Year 2024" here, a day after the starting of the flight service between Phnom Penh and New Delhi.

"This event, and especially the first direct flight between the two countries (will) make the two countries gain, we can say win-win solutions," he said.

Cambodia's national flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air began the service between the two countries from June 16. It will be available four times a week -- on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The envoy said it just began yesterday and today this "milestone event" between the two countries. India and Cambodia have many similarities and "we share culture, traditions, religion (Buddhism), and people have to be aware of the two countries...and there are opportunities to see", Kuong said.

When a direct flight starts and cost is lower to travel, then people like to travel, he said.

"And, when more people travel, it increases number of tourists, and people need to eat, stay and travel. So overall, this opportunity like a direct flight will positively affect all areas of cooperation," Kuong said.

So, first is tourism, then second is volume of investment as when people travel it may be initially for sightseeing, but when they see opportunities to invest, "they become investors," he added.

"When they go to each others countries...goods, commodities between the two countries, they will import and export. Hence, the two-way trade volume will also increase. As also, the investment between the two countries," the envoy said.

Overall, the direct flight, will not only improve the private sector but it will improve the public sector too. And, there will be more exchanges between government officials of India and Cambodia, when they fly easy and travel at a lower cost, the envoy said.

Many high-level and other important official visits have taken place between the two sides.

Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia, visited India from May 29 to 31 in 2023 on his maiden State Visit, marking the culmination of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Cambodia in 1952.

This maiden State Visit by the King of Cambodia had taken place after almost six decades with the last one by his father King Norodom Sihanoauk in 1963.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar had visited Cambodia in November 2022 to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and the 17th East Asia Summit.

While returning from Phnom Penh, he had also visited Siem Reap to review the preservation and restoration work being undertaken by India at Cambodian heritage sites.

Cambodia is home to the iconic Angkor Wat temple, built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II. The world’s largest religious structure marks the high point of Khmer architecture. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site too.

The '1st Cambodia-India Tourism Year 2024' was jointly launched by Long Phirum, Secretary of State, Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, and Manisha Saxena, Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism of India, with a beating of traditional drums on the dais.

Both Saxena and Phirum addressed the gathering that consisted of government officials, tour operators from both the countries, and many businessmen from India who interacted with Cambodian officials and others.

Addressing the gathering, Phirum, who spoke in her native language, described the designation of 2024 as 'Cambodia-India Tourism Year' as a "significant milestone".

She also said the "historic direct air link" between Phnom Penh and New Delhi was also celebrated on Sunday in Phnom Penh.

Ambassador Kuong in his interaction with PTI also said earlier for Indians visiting Cambodia, they had to transit through neighbouring countries which took a lot of money and time. They will now save on these, he said.

He emphasised that there is more to Cambodia than just the ancient temples.

There are river crosses, eco-tourism, mountainous areas and "we have beautiful beaches", and the Cambodian people are warm and friendly to foreigners, Kuong said, adding, "we have a three-way (mode of) travelling -- by air, water and land -- in our country".

Cambodia is predominantly a Buddhist nation and many Cambodians visit India to see Buddhist sites in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They also visit neighbouring Nepal to see the Lumbini.

Many Cambodians also travel to India seeking medical treatment, the envoy said.

"Before the direct flight they came either for pilgrimage or medical treatment, but now they will want to explore more. Besides, religious tourism, medical tourism, they will explore places for sightseeing, and more other places...see other things beyond old temples," he added.

Cambodia earlier this year also started a campaign 'Visit Siem Reap 2024' to promote tourism in that historic region of the country.

Published 17 June 2024, 13:43 IST

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