Home » Optimization a sister city-partnership: Sihanoukville – Wuxi on Tourism Industry

Optimization a sister city-partnership: Sihanoukville – Wuxi on Tourism Industry

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In the past few years, a friendship between two neighboring countries, China-Cambodia, is deeply rooted throughout some bilateral cooperation activity. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is leading in creating innovative mechanisms for cooperation. As China’s closest ally in the Southeast Asian region, the country seems to have great potential and hopes to enhance Cambodia’s national development. Especially in Sihanoukville, which has a great prospect that could be aimed at local manufacturing or logistics hubs for a significant business or industry, as well as for tourism activity. As one of the country’s major tourist destinations where the government expected a sustainable tourism practice to be implemented, the local government remains moving toward rapid-paced tourism development by supporting investment opportunities for modern tourism. Align with the government of Cambodia’s effort to establish Sihanoukville city with a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in 2007 through an intergovernmental agreement and bilateral coordination with China also introduced the form of a sister-city relationship with Wuxi city, which projected will help maintain the beach environment and its facilities in Sihanoukville. The Special Economic Zone is one of the Chinese-proposed models for the “One Belt One Road” initiative, which was introduced for Sihanoukville and Wuxi in December 2008. Wuxi also benefited from SEZ in its city development background; hopefully, Wuxi is willing to cooperate with development among BRI partners.

Sihanoukville is knowledgeable with its popular Deum Chrey as a coastal city, a marine destination, and scuba diving tourism. The assessment created by Thach Phe and Dr. Vijit Supinit showed that the local community expressed interest and expected more tourism development[1]. But the areas faced underdevelopment, where Sihanoukville is fill with 1.000 unfinished building dotting the cityscape, where their investor abandoned their ventures and was overgrown with weeds. It caused a social and environmental condition, where many unfinished roads; large-scale cranes swept across the whole city; lastly, the city has changed unrecognizably into a construction and casino boom town. The city also faced high rentals for hotels, guesthouses, and even food. Some also said that the beaches of Sihanoukville still have limited regulatory guidelines of tourism facilities, activities, and waste disposal, which compromised environmental quality, increased conflicts, and threatened the beach’s attraction to tourists. This lack of management and development strategy firmly impacts social and economic problems, restricting the city’s space to branch out.

Wuxi’s existence as a sister city partnership started to aim the locals’ daily concerns by offering training programs and building awareness in the community about tourism industry knowledge. Wuxi also provides encompasses the trade, business, medical care, social security, public infrastructure, and education programs as part of the annual SEZ programs. Expecting from the partnership by training and other sessions to be shared, Wuxi involvement in developing the locals’ human resources and infrastructure of Sihanoukville could also encourage the tourism environment. Conversely, SEZ cooperation has overcome road access to major transport routes to advance traveler’s mobilization, travel goods, and create new opportunities. The city also has a direct flight from Wuxi to Sihanoukville in around four hours.

To ensure the continuity and advantages of the partnership program then need to be supported by the local government itself. Unfortunately, Sihanoukville’s local government has not fully played a role in improving its local competence. Furthermore, a lack of local government correspondence decreased action and local’s belonging to its interest in participating actively in building the city together. It made the city’s attraction according to its tourism numbers are still fairly low.

Therefore, the local government of Sihanoukville needs to properly utilize the sister-city partnership with Wuxi by forging strategic cooperation and collaboration. Therefore, sister-city relations could also be a platform to solve the urban issues related to the tourism sectors in Sihanoukville. Further, the collaboration also could do in the digitalization aspect. It could start with a renewable management program to encourage tourism, especially for sharing information concerning tourism policies and city promotion using digital platforms, which could engage more people using cyberspace. More local people understanding the importance of digital platforms can effectively increase the number of visitors to Sihanoukville. As Sihanoukville is much newer and more cosmopolitan than other Cambodian provincial cities, providing a great little tropical getaway can be a new destination for domestic and international visitors.

About the writer:

Gabriela Kusuma Hernawan. An Undergraduate student in International Relations, University of Brawijaya and Intern at the UCLG ASPAC Secretariat.


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[1] Read more about the Survey in this website: https://www.researchpublish.com/upload/book/A%20Study%20of%20Tourism%20Development-3640.pdf

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