The number of Chinese tourists visiting Angkor Wat in the nine months through September increased 60 per cent compared with the same period in 2012, as many direct flights from China to Siem Reap have been added.
The 200,975 Chinese visitors contributed to the 5.8 per cent overall increase in international tourists visiting Angkor Wat, reaching almost 1.6 million in the nine-month period, Siem Reap tourism department data show.
“We noticed that Chinese tourists sharply increased during this period. It is because we had opened many new direct flights from China to Siem Reap,” Chhoeuy Chhorn, director of the Siem Reap tourism department, said. “In addition, with better road links from other provinces, it is easier for them to come here.”
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said yesterday that the growth rate of Chinese tourists to Cambodia is not on par with other countries and regions, where the Chinese are travelling upwards of 200 per cent more in the first nine months.
“I see 20 destinations in the world including Thailand, Korea and Europe, [where the rate of Chinese tourists] increased by at least 150 per cent – so we are not at the high peak,” he said.
Cambodia hopes to increase the number of Chinese visitors. In June, tourism officials said they were considering building a “Chinatown” in Phnom Penh to target more Chinese.
Tourism Minister Thong Kong said then that Cambodia needed to create more modern shopping experiences to attract Chinese visitors.
“The main problem is, we lack the hotels, good restaurants, transportation services. Most importantly, we did only a little with advertising deep in the Chinese market,” he said, adding that “Chinese tourists prefer shopping more than other tourists”.
Chinese tourist arrivals may increase further with Juneyao Airlines’s plans for scheduled direct flights between Shanghai and Siem Reap in the upcoming tourism season. Chinese flag carrier Air China is also planning direct flights from Beijing in November.
Siem Reap tourism department data show that the number of local tourists slightly decreased by about 0.8 per cent.
Chhorn said a diversification of tourism sites in Cambodia contributed to the slight drop.
“People who used to visit Siem Reap changed their destination to somewhere else because we have coastal areas and many other eco-tourists sites in the southern provinces.”