Published on : Friday, December 15, 2017
In 2016, international arrivals to Cambodia increased by an annual 5% and pushed past 5 million, a number that is expected to increase by 11.5% this year and signifies a massive boost from the total of roughly 1 million tourists who visited in 2004.
The government, now is planning for innovative strategies to attract more tourists and keep the number flowing. One of the latest initiatives is “tiger tourism where the officers are planning to get the big cats which have been functionally extinct in Cambodia since the last one was seen in 2007, back to the kingdom, and gather international praise.
In early October, Thong Khon, the minister of tourism, told a workshop on ecotourism and wildlife that the ministry was aiming to turn Cambodia’s eastern provinces, which are largely ignored by tourists, into a wildlife haven buoyed by its new tigers.
However, this new strategy has also earned a share of criticism as experts know that poaching is a very common practise in the country. Also, some are bothered about the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri Province, where the tigers will live, lacks sufficient habitat and prey for the animals.
According to the Cat Action Treasury, a U.S. wildlife nongovernmental organization found in 1999 that Cambodia was the home to world’s second-highest tiger population. By 2007, that population was virtually extinct, and the last Indochinese tiger spotted in Cambodia was captured by camera trap roaming Mondulkiri Province. Experts believe that poaching, habitat destruction and other reasons accounted for this decimated population.