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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Air arrivals surged as tourism climbed 10pc in first quarter

Air arrivals surged as tourism climbed 10pc in first quarter

Siem Reap airport saw upturn, boosted by South Korean and Japanese visitors

INTERNATIONAL tourist arrivals surged by almost 10 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2009, showing key growth in the number of visitors from South Korea, China and Japan.

Government figures received by the Post late Tuesday state that 683,692 tourists came to Cambodia from January to March 2010, a rise of 9.87 percent on the 622,288 arrivals in the same period of 2009.

Potentially high-spending visitors from South Korea were up 31.5 percent, Chinese arrivals were up 27.2 percent, and Japanese visitors rose by 4.7 percent.

Air arrivals increased 10.83 percent to 371,506, up from 335,213 last year, with 10 percent more visitors entering the Kingdom at Siem Reap airport.

Total arrivals in the home province of Angkor Wat rose 22.8 percent, to 366,102.

Kong Sophearak, director of the Statistics and Tourism Information Department at the Ministry of Tourism, attributed the rise to the resurgence of global travel following “the darkness” of the financial crisis.

He welcomed the rise in visitors from Asia’s more developed nations, saying: “We now see that they are beginning to stay longer and spend more than last year.”

In 2009, South Korean tourists declined by 26 percent, arrivals from Japan went down 11 percent, and Chinese visitors fell by 1.1 percent.

Revenue generated from the sector declined 2 percent in 2009 to US$1.561 billion, despite overall visitor arrivals increasing.

The president of Cambodia’s Association of Travel Agents (CATA), Ang Kim Eang, noted the increase and commented that the government has opened more border crossings.

He said he hopes that in three years, Cambodia can target the “quality tourism” market and build up ecotourism – an area that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) stated was an important factor for sector development earlier this month.

Luu Meng, president of Cambodia’s Hotel Association (CHA), said that occupancy within the hotel industry had risen by up to 10 percent quarter-on-quarter.

The tourists “spend more days here because we have lowered our prices to give them more of a chance to visit the country”, he said.

According to the data, tourist arrivals increased by 6.36 percent in January, by 10.74 percent in February and by 12.79 in March.

Ang Kim Eang predicted that the trend will continue. “I am optimistic that the foreign tourists will keep increasing. People are just getting to know our country after the long-lasting civil war,” he said.

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