Philippines, Cambodia sign four agreements
The Philippines and Cambodia signed on Wednesday four agreements on tourism, sports, labor, and in combating transnational crimes.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen witnessed the forging of the implementation program of tourism cooperation 2016-2020; memorandum of agreement on sports cooperation; MOA concerning the cooperation in the field of labor; and memorandum of understanding between the Philippine National Police and the Cambodian National Police in combating transnational crime.
With the tourism cooperation pact, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, who signed the deal on behalf of the Philippine government, said the two countries would work to have direct flight between Manila and Phnom Penh.
"We will focus on air connectivity," she said in a press conference prior to the signing of the agreement.
She noted the only direct flight between the two countries is in Siem Reap to Manila by local carrier Cebu Pacific.
With the direct flight, Teo said they expect an increase in the tourist arrivals in the Philippines.
She noted from January to August, visitor arrivals from Cambodia only hit 2,381.
The Philippines provided for a steady number of arrivals in Cambodia, she said, citing that in 2015, the Filipinos who visited Cambodia reached to 84,677, and for the first half of this year, the number was at 70,680.
“Now is the best time to involve our Cambodian friends in our Tourism programs and initiatives. We would be happy to help them further as they promised to do the same for us,” Teo said.
The Tourism Cooperation Treaty between the two countries also stipulates the creation of a joint working group that will serve as platform for both countries to present their corresponding environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tourism development and cultural preservation programs, as well as, experiences in the governance of the tourism industry, enforcement of tourism laws and regulations, and conservation of cultural heritage sites.
She said it also has been agreed that the third joint working group will meet in Siem Reap in June 2017 while the fourth meeting will take place in the Philippines in the last quarter of 2017.
To strengthen awareness of tourism destinations and products in both countries, familiarization tours and exchange programs for tourism and hospitality students and professionals will be further enhanced, according to the agreement.
Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, a boxing champion, accompanied the president in Cambodia to help in the sports cooperation between the two countries. Celerina Monte/DMS