In a bid to increase tourist arrivals and promote Sihanoukville as a beach destination, Cambodia Airports, the private company that manages the Kingdom’s three international airports, announced yesterday that it will provide monetary incentives to airlines that bring in foreign visitors to the coastal city.
Speaking at the Sihanoukville Showcase 2015, Patrine Tay, marketing and sales director at Cambodia Airports, said that starting next year airlines will be given $10 per international departing passenger, up to a maximum of $1,000 per flight, as an incentive to direct tourists to Sihanoukville.
“There is [tourism] potential in Sihanoukville, but operators don’t know much about the destination and they may think there is a lot of risk bringing passengers here,” she added “So, we decided to help share a bit of that risk by providing them with this incentive.”
She added that the incentive, effective January 2016, would only apply to scheduled international flights departing Sihanoukville. The offer would be valid on flights operating as little as once a week, provided the schedule covered an entire season.
Tay said that promoting tourism development in the coastal city was a multi-stakeholder responsibility, and this was one way to help reduce an airline’s costs.
Three airlines currently operate international scheduled flights to Sihanoukville, according to Pichr Sopontara, routes development manager at Cambodia Airports.
Cambodia Angkor Air, the Kingdom’s flagship carrier, operates a weekly flight from the coastal city to Tianjin, while Korean-Cambodian airline Sky Angkor Air has a twice-weekly charter flight to Hangzhou, he said. Chinese carrier Lucky Air launched twice-weekly scheduled service from Kunming last week.
Lily Zheng, marketing and sales specialist for Hong Kong-based Dragon Air, which does not currently offer flights to Sihanoukville, said the new incentive was a good promotion, but not enough on its own. She said Dragon Air was researching the Cambodian market, but would only consider adding a flight if there was an increase in options for travellers.
“Sihanoukville is good for travellers as it has beaches for them to relax on, but there should be more restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels to give us more choices,” Zheng said. “The infrastructure now is not enough for the Chinese market.”
Steve Kim, vice president of Sky Angkor Airlines, said the new incentive could help lower airline operating costs, but the government should step in
with additional measures such as reducing the visa fee to encourage more tourists to come to Sihanoukville.
“The government needs to look at other offers to attract more tourists, as well as work closely with the private sector and stakeholders to implement them,” he said.
Eng Molina, deputy general manager for sales and commercial division at Cambodia Angkor Air, welcomed the new incentive, which he said would help support airlines in reducing their costs and increasing their revenues.
“These kinds of incentives will help motivate Angkor Air to have more direct international flights to other places as well,” Molina said.
He added that Angkor Air was planning to launch direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Sihanoukville in 2016.
Sihanoukville International Airport received 43,400 passengers in 2014, a 120 per cent increase compared with a year earlier, according to Cambodia Airports data. The company projects that passenger volume will increase 133 per cent this year.