Passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s two main international airports increased around 12 per cent in the first quarter of this year, as compared to the same period in 2014, on account of an uptick in tourist and business visitor arrivals.
From January to March this year, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airport welcomed a total of 919,550 passengers, up from 823,260 arrivals reported last year, according to figure from Cambodia Airports, which runs the two airports.
“Passenger traffic growth attests to Cambodia’s attractiveness for leisure and business visitors,” said Khek Norinda, communication and marketing director of Cambodia Airport, yesterday.
Of the 919,550 arrivals, Phnom Penh International Airport received 380,969 passengers, an increase of 15.2 per cent and Siem Reap International Airport recorded 538,581 arrivals, a rise of
9.3 per cent.
“For tourism, as the market matures, we should expect single digit figure growth instead of the current double digit one. We need to diversify our tourism offerings to maintain or increase the pace of growth,” Norinda added.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, attributed the growing figures to the “high season” for tourist arrivals in Cambodia, which lasts from September to March.
“More tourists arriving on airplanes reflects a positive sign for Cambodia’s civil aviation industry. It also means that Siem Reap received more tourists from further destinations, while Phnom Penh airport is serving as a main gateway for businessmen and investors,” he said.
“More Cambodians are travelling outbound to do business and for touring, which is also a reason for these increasing passenger arrivals at both airports,” he added.
Kim Eang, however, said that the two airports needed to improve their internal services and immigration checking processes for passengers. He also raised concerns over the coming aviation audit by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization, which will be conducted in November.
“If we fail to meet the international safety standards, then there is a high chance that growth in the tourism sector will level off and we will not be able to expand to new markets,” he noted.
The announcement of a pending review comes just months after an industry report warned that Cambodia’s lax regulations could lead to an ICAO blacklisting.
This February, the Australia-based Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said current and prospective airlines were “worried the audit could result in Cambodia being placed on ICAO’s blacklist”.
In February, ICAO bought into question the safety standards applied by the aviation authorities in Thailand, which led to Japan, South Korea and China restricting new charter and new scheduled flights from Thai-based carriers to their countries.
According to the CAPA report, Cambodia’s lax airline industry regulations have been viewed as easy way to obtain an Airline Operation Certificate (AOC).