Nestled in the northern reaches of the Mekong River, the Stung Treng Ramsar site in Cambodia stands as a testament to the country’s rich biodiversity and commitment to eco-tourism.
This wetland haven, spanning over 1,460 hectares, forms a mosaic of habitats, home to species from kingfishers to elusive Irrawaddy dolphins. As the dry season reveals a landscape once submerged, tourists are offered a unique opportunity to weave through the wetland’s tapestry, guided by the exposed roots of trees, and camp under a starlit sky.
The Stung Treng Ramsar site is more than a natural wonder; it’s a lifeline for the local community. The symbiosis of traditional fishing practices and wetland conservation underscores the community’s commitment to preserving this ecological treasure.
Each of the five Ramsar sites in Cambodia, including Stung Treng, plays a crucial role in supporting community livelihoods and adding to family income through tourism, while also protecting these special places, according to a report by Star Online.
Cambodia’s wetland tourism significantly contributes to the national economy. In 2019, the tourism industry accounted for 21% of the country’s GDP, with ecotourism showing signs of even greater growth, according to data from the World Bank.
However, a recent slowdown in tourism growth, particularly in traditional hotspots like Angkor Wat, highlights the need for diversification. The Cambodian government recognizes this potential and is actively working to develop and promote ecotourism, which could create much-needed revenues for managing the country’s extensive protected areas.
The World Bank has played a pivotal role in shaping Cambodia’s ecotourism sector. In a recent advisory report, the World Bank outlined key recommendations for developing ecotourism in Cambodia.
These include diversifying tourism products, creating jobs, stimulating rural economies, and protecting the forest assets that underpin ecotourism. This strategic approach is part of a broader strategy for the sustainable management of the country’s natural capital and strengthening its links to the economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to Cambodia’s tourism sector, emphasizing the need for a resilient and diversified tourism offering. The World Bank’s report advocates for building back better post-COVID-19 by investing in ecotourism.
This approach is seen as essential for Cambodia’s recovery, potentially leading to a more resilient economy and sustainable livelihoods for the Cambodian people.
The future outlook for tourism in Cambodia, particularly eco-tourism, is promising. The ongoing efforts to develop and promote ecotourism are expected to contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth and sustainable development.
Potential areas for growth include further development of eco-tourism projects that contribute to conservation efforts and sustainable livelihoods.