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Kingdom courts gay tourists

in CAMBODIA, 03/02/2011

Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has welcomed a bid to launch a global campaign to encourage gay and lesbian travellers to the Kingdom, an official told The Post today.

According to a press release posted online today, some Cambodian tourism businesses have set up a global campaign called “Adore Cambodia!” to let gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tourists know they are welcome in the country.

“Siem Reap is remarkable because major players in the hospitality and service industries are comfortable extending a genuine welcome specifically to GLBT visitors,” John Goss, director of Utopia-Asia.com, which lists more than 70 gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses around Cambodia, was quoted as saying.

An openly gay businessman, named as Sopheara, was quoted as saying: “Mutual respect between people is deeply a part of Khmer culture.

“Gays and lesbians are included as long as cultural traditions are respected. More and more Cambodians, in all strata of society, are living an open gay life.

“But you won’t find provocative displays of sexuality here.”

Today, So Sokvuthy, director of promotion department of Ministry of Tourism said that although the ministry was not informed of the plan, he welcomed any company or person that wanted to promote the tourism sector.

“It is not a problem, if they do not break the traditions [of Cambodia]. We have no policy to discriminate on sex, national and religious grounds. We really support them,” said So Sokvuthy.

He added that the ministry was open to all companies wanting to promote the Kingdom.

“It will let tourists know about Cambodia and attract tourists come to the country if they promote tourism,” he said.

The press release added that “with the spread of ultra-cheap flights from regional hubs like Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, gay and lesbian tourists have discovered a quiet haven of tolerance, culture and world heritage that is actively reaching out to the economically powerful GLBT niche travel market” in Cambodia.

The campaign logo design, it continued, has been based on the Runbdul flower depicted in the six colours of the “internationally recognised gay rainbow”.

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