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CATA head rejects Thai loss claims

CATA head rejects Thai loss claims

A CAMBODIAN tourism sector representative rejected claims from counterparts in Thailand that Cambodia could lose between US$900 million and $1.2 billion in tourism income as the ongoing dispute over deposed Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra drives Thai and foreign tourists away.

Cambodian Association of Travel Agents President Ang Kim Eang acknowledged there would be an impact in the unlikely event the two countries closed the border, but he rejected the Thai estimates.

“It is simply not true because tourists from Thailand make up just 35 percent of our total foreign tourists, and our total income last year from tourism was only about $1.595 billion,” he said.

In comments reported on the Bangkok Post Web site Tuesday, Apichart Sangka-aree, an adviser to the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said Cambodia would face stronger negative impact from the dispute than Thailand.

“European tourists are now refraining from visiting Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and are instead visiting the Northeast of Thailand, which has a similar culture and tourist attractions,” he said.

Apichart estimated the potential losses to Cambodia as between 30 billion and 40 billion Thai baht.

Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) Charoen Wang-ananont also told the Bangkok Post that 95 percent of Thai tourists who had booked tour packages to Cambodia in advance have now cancelled or delayed their trips.

More than 600,000 Thais visited Cambodia last year, spending about 7,000 baht ($210) each, while only 60,000 Cambodians travelled to Thailand, TTAA figures show.

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