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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cambodian, Thai travel agents to meet as border row eases

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Thai tour and travel operators are scheduled to meet over the weekend to discuss ways to boost the two neighboring countries' tourism after being affected by continuous border dispute since 2008, the Chairman of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) Ang Kim Eang said Tuesday.

The one-day meeting will be held on Aug. 27 in coastal Preah Sihanouk province, some 230 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh, he said, adding that it will bring together 28 Cambodian tour and travel agents and 66 Thai travel agents.

"As military tension over the border conflict has eased and normalcy has returned to border, the two countries' travel associations want to create close connection to boost respective tourism," he said, "Both sides will promote each country's tourism destinations and seek partners for cooperation."

Thai tourists to Cambodia have constantly declined since the two neighbors have been involved in border dispute since July 2008 when Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, but Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.

Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulting in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.

However, the border tension between the two countries has eased since the Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory in the July 3 general election.

The latest statistics showed that Thai tourists to Cambodia had declined by up to 36 percent to 48,136 in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year of 75,695.

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