PHNOM PENH, June 22 (Xinhua) — The European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) on Wednesday formally awarded Cambodia as the World Best Tourist Destination for 2016, citing the country's cultural richness, natural beauty and safety.

Professor Anton Caragea, president of the Bucharest-headquartered ECTT, presented the illustrious award to Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at a ceremony here.

Some 30 countries joined the competition for the award this year, according to a ECTT report. Cambodia was named the best destination thanks to its rich cultural and historical legacy and outstanding natural beauty as well as good safety.

"I'm confident that through this award, more tourists will visit Cambodia," Hun Sen said. "Cambodia was previously famous for war and conflict, but now it is renowned for its cultural and eco- tourism."

He said the Southeast Asian country welcomed some 4.8 million foreign tourists in 2015, earning gross revenue of more than 3 billion U.S. dollars.

Professor Anton Caragea said the award was also bestowed in recognition of Cambodia's efforts in protecting and preserving the country's historical and civilization patrimony and in fostering tourism and culture.

"This title must be regarded as a challenge to conquer new barriers, as we are expecting Cambodia's future contribution for the development of the world's culture and tourism," he said.

Cambodia is well-known for two cultural sites in the UNESCO's World Heritage List. One is the 12th century Angkor Archeological Park and the other is the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple.

Besides, the nation has many interesting eco-tourism sites, including a 450-km pristine coastline stretching across four provinces in the country's southwestern part.