PHNOM PENH, 30 July 2019: Three Chinese tourists died and 10 passengers were injured at the weekend following a tour bus accident on a mountain road in Phnom Kuken National Park, Siem Reap province.
Police said the accident damaged the country’s tourism image according to the Phnom Penh Post report
It didn’t do much either for the image of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents with quotes attributed to a CATA spokesperson that suggested the association might be guilty of making a callous response.
The daily newspaper quoted Kelvin Tan, Asia market task force leader of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), which has some 300 members, saying he had to “protect the interests of his members by explaining that the accident was not the responsibility of the tourism company because the day of the incident was a holiday.”
He added that it was “not part of a tourism package as the Chinese tourists had rented a vehicle online and visited the area by themselves.”
Given three tourists died, and 10 were seriously injured, the comments if accurately reported reflect a very callous observation from someone who represents a national tour company association.
TTR Weekly posted a question on the CATA Facebook page asking for clarification. There was no response.
The minivan carrying the 13 Chinese tourists flipped over on the steep winding mountain dirt road that leads to the national park. Witnesses claimed the minivan descended at high speed and failed to brake causing the crash as it approached a bend. The driver fled the scene.
Two died on the way hospital, and a third Chinese tourist died later from injuries sustained in Sunday’s traffic accident. Siem Reap’s Reaksmey Angkor International Hospital is treating the surviving crash victims.
Police blamed the accident on the driver claiming the van descended through a series of hairpin bends on the dirt road at speed.
According to reports in local newspapers such as the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily, the ownership of the minivan and whether it was legally registered to carry tourists is now in doubt.
According to the latest report in the Phnom Penh Post, “the police are preparing to summon a representative of the tourism company to answer questions about the accident and explain why there was no tourist guide accompanying the group to Kulen Mountain.”
The national park is located about 60 km from Siem Reap in the Phnom Kulen Mountain, a 45-minutes north from town on Route 67. There is a USD20 road toll per person. Because the access road is narrow, traffic is allowed up only between dawn and noon and down between 1300 and sunset. Tour companies identify Phnom Kulen National Park as one of the most-visited sightseeing attractions in Cambodia.