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Chinese tourist numbers high

Foreign tourists visiting Cambodia increased more than 24 per cent for the first eight months of the year compared to the same period last year, while tourism officials expected Chinese visitors could be ranked number two in the Cambodian tourism market in the future.

According to figures the Ministry of Tourism released yesterday, the numbers of international tourists reached were 2,334,793 – an increase of 24.5 per cent if compared to the same period of eight months last year which accounted for 1,874, 985 tourists.

Thong Khon, Minister of Ministry of Tourism, said last week three Chinese national media stations came to film in Cambodia to promote its potential for tourism, which is part of the ASEAN-China Center program.

“We realise Chinese visitors are increasing a lot because we do promotions in their market,” he said. “We would urge more flights from southern China because direct flights are still limited from China.

“We already have a plan. By 2015, we will receive one million Chinese tourists. Chinese visitors cannot jump over Vietnamese tourists, but they can increase and jump over Koreans. Chinese visitors are now ranked number three jumping from the fifth and fourth rankings in previous years."

The data shows Vietnamese visitors grew 27.3 per cent, from 408,517 up to 520,165 tourists, while South Korean tourists grew 26 per cent, jumping from 227,545 to 287,210. Chinese tourists grew 31 per cent, jumping from 158,492 up to 207,617 visitors for this period.

Thong Khon expressed a concern about a lack of tourism services to serve Chinese tourists such as good restaurants and supermarkets for purchasing goods.

“The key point is we lack Chinese restaurants and quality supermarkets,” he said. “Our policies are moving us in that direction [to attract Chinese tourists], but why don’t investors do it? If I have money, I will do it, but I haven’t. I need the international standard Chinese restaurants and we should serve all kinds of services including Chinese language menus.”

Hopes for a increase in Chinese visitors were bolstered in early April when Cambodia and China pledged to double bilateral trade to US$5 billion by 2017, a move that would see heavy marketing for Cambodian tourism in China, according a previous report by the Post.

Cambodian tourism brought in an estimated US$2.5 billion in 2011, making the industry one of the country’s biggest generators of gross domestic product, the World Bank report said. In 2010, the sector accounted for 21.2 per cent of GDP.

According to Thong Khon, the language skills among tourist guides are lacking in at least four languages – Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian.

Luu Meng, President of the Cambodian Hotel Association, said that Siem Reap already has of some good restaurants, but this province still faced a shortage of more restaurants for tourists’ options.

He said that Cambodia would receive more Chinese tourists when Cambodia has direct flights to some parts of the China.

“More Chinese visitors will come if we have more direct flights,” he said.

The data shows that international tourist arrivals through the Siem Reap International Airport increased 22.8 per cent, jumping from 531,860 to 652,885, while the Phnom Penh International Airport received only a nine per cent increase from 422,521 to 460,359 people.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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