European Council on Tourism and Trade President, Professor Dr. Anton Caragea attended the General meeting of world tourism community had celebrated the world level achievers in tourism and culture in a glittering display on 22 june 2016, hosted by the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
President Dr. Anton Caragea officiated over the important moment for world tourism when the Kingdom of Cambodia was officially crowned as WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2016 and universally acclaimed as FAVORITE CULTURAL DESTINATION IN 2016.
The full text of the powerful speech delivered by ECTT President can be observed here:
WORD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2016-CAMBODIA
ECTT President-Professor Dr. ANTON CARAGEA
Your Excellency Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Dr. HUN SEN- Prime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellency Mr. Thong Khon – Minister of Tourism,
Esteemed members of Royal Government of Cambodia, of Parliament of Cambodia, distinguished member’s diplomatic corps
All protocol observed
We are all assembled here, on the venue of the most important global cultural event: WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARDS, to celebrate the country and the personalities that had contributed outstandingly to humanity evolution.
Humanity, a word that must encompass our greatest achievement: culture, history, development and tourism.
This year theme of world community is concentrated around the role of CULTURE AND HISTORY in shaping our life`s and destinies.
Culture is the bedrock of societies, nations and civilizations.
We have to put the world at the right hour: the hour of culture, of history, of civilization!
Culture and history must be recognized not as resource consuming, but as major economic factors, that helps countries to develop and enrich themselves in more ways than just simple economic value.
Countries and peoples are rediscovering themselves by tourism, cultures are resurrected, history is re-lived and people are creating new opportunities by tourism development.
What is a country that is having all of the industrial and technical riches of the world but does not have the cultural contribution, civilization achievements and a history to look after and preserve?
The answer is: nothing!
Industrial patrimony is becoming obsolete, technology goes yearly outdated: while the history and patrimony are enriching and are becoming more valuable day after day.
Everything fears time, but time fears history, says a valuable proverb!
This is the answer why rich countries are spending billions in preserving what little history they have, in creating a tradition and a civilization out of nothing!
Because they realize, that by material values alone they will count for little!
History and culture are the true indicators of a country and a people values and standing in the world.
Today, in XXI century, culture, tourism and historical patrimony are humanity tools of choice for building bridges of information, understanding and cooperation in the world.
In this new world, when tourism is the center of the economy, culture is the heart of a nation and traveling is the new diplomacy that is shaping peoples and nations destiny, there is no more important moment, as the moment when world tourism is choosing his World Best Tourist Destination.
We are fully aware of the importance of our choice, as we have in some years to support tourism as a vector for economic development, others when we have to privilege tourism as factor of unity in the world, but some time we are fortunate to select our winner on the fundamental base: that TOURISM IS WORLD EDUCATOR.
This, on the account that our decision must lead the way for tourists to discover and rediscover new horizons , to open themselves to new cultures, to immerse in the understanding of new ways of life and creeds.
Our presence here: must be a signal of re-emphasizing our commitment to place history, patrimony and cultural legacy on the world spotlight.
We must never let us forget, the simple truth that: our main duty as a world institution is to make tourism a bridge toward culture, a pathway to understanding the world.
In a time when many are preaching dogmatism and narrow mindedness we must insure that by simple act of tourism we touch the soul and the imagination of the traveler.
This is the rationale, the powerful driving force that etched our decision to universally proclaim THE KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA as World Best Tourist Destination for 2016.
We could not think at any country more suitable, to teach the world, the real value of culture, the significance of historical patrimony in the resurgence of a nation and in creating a new scale of values in the world.
On the real scale of values, we seldom find a civilization more originally, more splendid and sending a more powerful sentiment of desire to live, to aim the beauty and to never stop striding for happiness and pride as the KHMER CIVILIZATION.
Travelers that will select, this kingdom of wonders and wisdom-Cambodia, as their destination of choice will have the chance of immersing themselves in a magic land, from where humanity learned the values of greatness of ancient Khmer kings, the spirit of beauty of magic Apsaras, carved in the temples of Angkor Watt and Angkor Thom.
Here is where the magic never stop`s, the wonder never ceased to astonish us. Mekong is becoming part of the magic that is Cambodia and the rich waters of the river flow to the plain and by magic they stop their normal course to the Sea and the turn inlands, creating one of the world larges lakes: Tonle Sap, covering1/10 of the territory of Cambodia.
Where can you see such magic: a river that flows upwards?
Only in the land of wonders: THE MAGIC KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA.
Here, in Cambodia, tourists can find themselves and their inner peace and reconnect with God and the world in the magic and wonder of the celebrated WATT of Cambodia.
Here Buddhism will teach you not necessary to become a Buddhist, but to become BETTER: Better Christian, better Free Thinker.
Whatever your religion and creed, Cambodia will educate you, to search for the better in side you and outside: in the world.
This is the wonder of Cambodia!
The striking power of Khmer people, mirrored in the temples of Angkor is a testimony to the ingenuity and prowess of people of Cambodia enshrined forever in the stoned Watt`s of the Siem Reap province.
Astonished travelers of XX century, made up stories of extraterrestrial civilizations coming to build them and as a tourist will see that: these all powerful beings still have a name, a face and an address: is the face of Khmer people, the name of Khmers who labored for ancient kings and the address is only one: Cambodia.
We, in XXI century, we forgot the all conquering power of humans to build, to snatch from nature the materials needed and construct all conquering monuments, that fear neither time, neither decay.
Khmer people and history are here to teach us this valuable lesson: that humanity can do whatever is ambitioning to create!
See Angkor and you will believe!
Today, when we need to be taught also the lesson of humility, of moderation, in our economic and practical goals, the lesson of ecological preservation: Cambodia is also the open book that we need.
When all powerful, and all mighty, Kings of Angkor conquer all that their ambitions has sought after, they started under the influence of Buddhist Theravada to moderate their desire, slowly abandoning their cities and create for them a kingdom to conquer, inside their hearts and minds.
When they finish conquering the world, they started to conquer their souls and inner peace!
When nothing in the world tempts them, they started bettering themselves and making the Khmer people in the most splendid of the temples.
I cannot find another civilization, in the realm of history, capable of such a radical change.
Another wonder in the Kingdom of Wonders: Cambodia!
This is making Cambodia the ideal destination for peoples searching their connection with their inner fillings, in quest for their peace of mind and soul; you can never have better allies that Khmer wisdom.
Because thus is Cambodia today: an educator to the world, a provider of wonder, in a century that stopped believing in them, a classical spiritual adventure, a discovery trip in times and places, that is a must see and is richly deserving the appellative of World Best Tourist Destination.
I will not restart the detailed description of all the UNESCO heritage sites existing in Cambodia or perusing the long list of region and cities awaiting their inscription on world heritage list.
I will just emphasize how rare is country that is offering such a diversity of landscapes, climates, cultural and historical beauties as Cambodia.
Educator of humanity, cradle of culture! This is CAMBODIA of today!
We must also mark down Cambodia as a world example in building tourism fair revenue distribution and with H.E. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of Cambodia, support to the program: ONE VILLAGE/ ONE PRODUCT encourage tourist, travelers or just prospective tourists to invest in local artisans creations.
These revenues are helping community to develop, are helping people restarting their lives, protecting cultural landscape and historical legacy.
Coming as a tourist in Cambodia, is not just a self rewarding adventure, but is also an opportunity to make a responsible tourism, fair trade tourism, supporting local communities and poor rural areas.
We are hailing Cambodia as The Favorite Cultural Destination for 2016 and with good measure also, as we just inscribed as intangible cultural and tourism patrimony heritage the concept of SROK KHMER – the specific Khmer concept of carving a national space and an integrated community of peoples.
The concept of SROK KHMER, offering a special mark of inter-community dialogue and acceptance, of tolerance and friendship, that explains in full how Cambodia can unite peoples and religions, can give them the sense of historical unity and bind them together, in love for a nation and a country.
This concept is also a fundament of Cambodia history and development, a secret to ingratiate in a polite and correct manner, that makes tourist feel at home in this wonderful country.
Cambodia is in itself a World Lecturer in history and civilization, and I could go one for hours, underlining the many reasons why crowning Cambodia today as World Best Tourist Destination, it is just a normal act of recognition of a country so rich in culture and promises of tomorrow that it becomes the embodiment of the tourism for the future, of the tourism for knowledge and experiences, of tourism that is letting us richer in conscience and soul.