The Cambodian National Assembly here on Thursday approved the appointment of former secretary of state Thong Kon to replace Lay Prohas as tourism minister for further development of the sector.
During the assembly, 84 voted for, eight against, nine invalid and six in abstention for the team of Thong Kon as minister from the major ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Nhiek Kim Chhon as secretary of state, namely deputy minister, from the co- ruling Funcinpec Party, said President Heng Samrin.
Only 107 of the 123 parliamentarians attended the vote, he added.
Hun Sen said upon the approval that the reshuffle was made to address some irregularities at the ministry to strive for further development of the mushrooming industry.
"We want to reform to achieve development and reduce poverty and the tourism sector is expected to contribute to the economic growth in large scale," he told reporters.
"As head of the government, I have great responsibilities for the fortune of the country, so this reshuffle comes reasonably," he added, without elaborating on the exact reason.
From now until the general election in 2008, the government still has much time to deal with the tourism sector to help attract more foreign tourists to visit Cambodia, he said.
Meanwhile, Thong Kon told reporters that he is determined to strengthen the tourism industry by enhancing cooperation with the private sector.
"We want Cambodia to become one of the tourism destinations for the region and for the whole world," he said, adding that he will work harder to get the tourism management law to be passed at the National Assembly.
In the first quarter of this year, Cambodia attracted about 500, 000 foreign tourists, while the infrastructure, the road systems, the airports and the government attention continue to get improved, he said.
Lay Prohas was appointed as tourism minister in 2004. The number of foreign tourists to the kingdom has grown to 1.7 million in 2006, a 20 percent rise over 2005.
Tourism, garment and agriculture are the pillar industries for the kingdom.