Tourism official blames losses on package tours, but says land entries offset drop from airports
Air arrivals fell 16 percent in the first quarter, affecting numbers to both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. BLOOMBERG
THE number of tourists entering Cambodia by air has decreased by 16 percent during the first four months of 2009 compared with the same time last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
A ministry report states that 421,998 foreign tourists entered Cambodia by air during the first four months of this year compared with 503,328 during the same period in 2008.
It stated that 181,479 tourists flew in to Phnom Penh International Airport during this period - 30,045 down on last year - while 240,519 entered Cambopdia via Siem Reap, which was 51,285 down on 2008.
Kong Sophearak, director of the ministry's Department of Information and Tourism Statistics, said the decrease was due to the reduction in package tours stemming from the global economic recession.
The decrease is not only a problem in Cambodia but it is a worldwide concern.
"Many tourists no longer want to spend as much money travelling into our country by air, which is an expensive means of travel," he said, adding that a 15 percent increase in entries by land and waterways had offset losses from air traffic.
Some 329,017 tourists entered Cambodia by land and air from January to April this year, compared with only 282,216 last year.
Chea Aun, director general of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, confirmed that the number of tourists flying to Cambodia had decreased, but that "not one flight" had been cancelled.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said Monday that economic instability and political crises in Thailand were the two main causes for the decline.
"We think that the decrease is not only a problem in Cambodia but it is a worldwide concern, and we hope that the problem will improve soon," he said.