Your Excellency LEE KYUNG-SOO, Ambassadors of the Republic of Korea to Cambodia,
Your Excellency KIM KWAN-YONG, Governor of Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests! 

It is my pleasure to be here to inaugurate the “Phnom Penh-Daegu-Gyenogbuk Culture and Tourism Center” of the Phnom Penh city. This represents another achievement, stemming from joint effort of Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Municipality and Korea’s Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province within the framework of close cooperation between both countries.  Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my profound gratitude to the Government and people of the Republic of Korea for the support given to the construction of this center.  Along with this, I would also like to convey my appreciation to H.E. Deputy Prime Minister SOK ANN, Minister of the Office of the Council of Ministers, and Excellency Governor of the Phnom Penh Municipality as well as related institutions, local authorities, and people of Phnom Penh for their hard work and firm commitment that result in many significant achievements, including this one. This newly-built center, besides serving culture, tourism and trade purposes, is an indication of strong cooperation between the people and governments of both countries.

This center is indeed another outcome of the cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea.  In this sense, I strongly support and encourage all cooperation between both countries that will bring about new achievements to accelerate Cambodia’s socio-economic development.  Along with this, I would also like to extend my warmest welcome to H.E. KIM KWAN YONG, Governor of Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province and colleagues. I would also like to thank H.E. LEE KYUNG-SOO, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Cambodia, who have coordinated and facilitated multi-sectoral cooperation between both countries. As a development partner, the Republic of Korea has been instrumental in Cambodia’s pursuit of development including grants, concessional loans, investment in finance and infrastructure and exchange of culture through cultural events and tourist flow. Moreover, the official visit of H.E. LEE MYONG-BAK, President of the Republic of Korea, in October 2009 was an encouragement for Korean investors and a signal of strong cooperation between Cambodia and Korea.

This center is indeed a result of the successful Angkor-Gyeongju Expo 2006, which was jointly organized by Cambodia and Korea’s Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province.  Following this successful event, there is an initiative to build the center. Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism and Gyeongsangbuk-Do then singed an MOU on tourism and culture cooperation, and the Phnom Penh-Daegu-Gyeongbuk Center standing here is an indication of this cooperation.  In this spirit, I would like to urge other Cambodian provinces, especially those with tremendous potential in tourism, to assess the possibilities of further cooperation with Korea.      

The Cambodia-Korea joint culture center will display the ancient and rich culture of both countries and I believe that all tourists who are coming to visit Phnom Penh city will be well aware of the culture, tradition of Cambodia and Korea as well as receiving information from various tourism resorts through extensive information dissemination.  This center will become a place for showing the cultural products, artifacts, artistic craftsmanship, drawings and the tourism potential of the four prioritized areas, which include cultural and historical tourism sites, Phnom Penh city, beaches, and the eco-tourism sites in the northeast parts, full of historical, cultural and natural tourism resorts in order to show the national and international tourists to understand about the values of the culture, tradition, and natural resources in Cambodia, which is suitable to be the Kingdom of Wonder and is based on the Cambodia Tourism Policy, which is Cultural and Natural Tourism.  Along with that, this center will also show the opportunity for investment and trade between Cambodia and Korea.

Furthermore, this center will become the tourism information center that plays significant role in providing factual information to the national and international tourists about security, safety, services of the tourism sites as well as providing advice related to the development of tourism in the Kingdom of Cambodia now and in the future.  The progress in tourism sector will accelerate growth in other sectors as well because tourism sector is the industry that is interconnected among sectors such as telecommunication, transport, the renovation and development of infrastructures, enhancement and diversification of agriculture and the expansion of international trade relations.  These tasks are the interconnected and push and pull factors and mechanisms, contributing tremendously to the job creation and income generation for the people in order to gradually improve their living standard.

For Cambodia, the tourism sector has become the prioritized sector of the economic policy and the energetic impetus for socio-economic development of Cambodia.  The development of tourism sector has actively contributed to the creation of jobs for the people, promoting the economy to be more balanced for trade, and the essential source for currency revenue.  These are the excellent opportunity for Cambodia to transform itself to be tourism, cultural, social and natural center, which is new tourism destination of Southeast Asia, a center of fast growth in tourism sector of the world today.  The Kingdom of Cambodia has tremendous potential for tourism for the development of tourism sector, based on the foundation of cultural, historical and natural resources, and the efforts made by the people and related institutions, development partners and private sector under the Cambodian tourism policy.  At the same time, our Country enjoys peace and political stability, security, safety all over the Kingdom, which is the favorable pre-condition to contribute to the development of all sorts of infrastructures to ensure sustainable progress in tourism sector as well as maintaining the truly maximum interest for the people.

In fact, the evolving progress of Cambodian tourism sector truly comes from the active efforts made by all institutions, related institutions, all levels of local authorities, development partners, private sector and the support from our people.  In the year 2008, international tourist arrivals to Cambodia were 2,125 465 people, increasing 5.5% compared to 2007, and within the first 11months of 2009 there were 1, 926 615 tourist arrivals, increasing 1.60%, compared to the same period in 2008.  Along with that, local tourism movement has also been moving remarkably.  In 2008, about 6.73 million local tourists visited various tourist resorts nationwide.  Along with the increase in tourism, the income from tourism sector also increased with the noticeable rate, by increasing from USD 578 million in 2004 to USD 1, 595 million in 2008 by creating about more than 300, 000 jobs and contribute about more than 12.5% of the GDP.  The income from tourism sector is the immediate injection of the foreign currency to the Cambodian current economy, which is the market economy, and this income is integrated into all composition of the economy.  This tourism revenue has significantly contributed to make Cambodia achieve macro-economic stability and its economic development.  Moreover, tourism revenue supports the development of other sectors such as agriculture, trade, infrastructure, as well as helping to promote the small and medium enterprise in Cambodia, and this revenue has become foreign investment capital with no interest through the spending of the tourists.  In this connection, the tourism revenue will also support the development of culture and maintenance of environment such as Angkor of Siem Reap province could be set as an example.

In actuality, the whole world today has not been out of the global economic and financial crisis yet.  Cambodia has been receiving impact from this crisis, therefore, the Royal Government has set out short-term, medium-term and long-term measures, and has been actively implementing with the participation from all development partners in order to mitigate these negative impacts from this crisis. 

The Royal Government has taken a number of priority measures in order to protect the vulnerability of the financial and economic issues, especially the measures to mitigate the impacts from the society, employment and revenue.

All measures has been formulated and carried out to stabilize macro-economy by implementing fiscal policy to accelerate growth, prudent fiscal policy, promoting systematic reforms, capacity building, and professional training to improve business environment, tourism, and local investment. These will bring more trust from visitors and domestic and foreign investors.  Additionally, the Royal Government has carried out the existing social safety net program and other programs to help the poor and vulnerable people, who have been impacted by the crisis.

In this context, I would like congratulate and appreciate Korean visitors and investors who have made the right decision to visit and to invest in all sectors in Cambodia. These activities have significantly contributed to economic development in Cambodia.

Once again, I highly appreciate our good cooperation between Cambodia and Korea, especially Phnom Penh city and Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province, which brings aboutthis pride today. I think this cultural centre will be the model centre, the main centre, the main door in Cambodia for information in tourism, investment and business to Koreans and all people around the world. This centre will enhance our relationships in culture, tourism and trade between Cambodia and Korea and other countries as well.

Before ending, I would like to appeal to all relevant ministries, institutions, development partners, private sector and all people to continue strongly supporting and promoting culture and tourism in Cambodia.

Finally, along with the official inauguration of this “Phnom Penh- Daegu Gyeongbuk Cultural,Tourism and Business Centre”,  I would like to wish His Excellency Lee Kyung Soo and His Excellency Kim Kwan Yong, their colleagues and Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests the four gems of Buddhist  blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.