More than 24,000 Cambodians visited Malaysia during the first half of 2012, while Malaysian arrivals to Cambodia numbered 54,000, an increase of 11.1 per cent compared with the same period in 2011.
That's why Malaysia's ambassador to Cambodia says he is optimistic that trade and tourism between the two ASEAN nations will gather pace in the future.
Ambassador Hussein's remarks came during the the first three-day Malaysia Travel and Shopping Fair at City Mall in Phnom Penh. He said the number of tourist and business links between Cambodia and Malaysia were on the rise and he expected the fair, which ended yesterday, to be an important means of increasing economic relations between the two ASEAN member states.
"This Malaysia Travel and Shopping Fair will promote Malaysia as the first holiday shopping and tourist destination to Cambodians and will enhance business between our two ASEAN countries," he said.
"The event is held for the first time in Phnom Penh and I understand it is the first time in Cambodia as well,” he said. “More than 20 promoters from Malaysia will offer them tourism packages," he added.
Ambassador Hussein said that with a 73.8 per cent share of total arrivals, ASEAN countries were still the largest tourism contributors to Malaysia.
"Business from Cambodia to Malaysia and Malaysia to Cambodia is quite big now," he said, adding that an increasing number of flights were serving the route between Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh.
During the official launch of the 2012-2020 Tourism Strategic Plan last Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the Cambodian tourism minister to promote and attract more tourists among ASEAN member states and the ASEAN plus 3 group.
The Premier also encouraged the attraction of more low-cost airlines to the Kingdom in order to give ASEAN people better chances to visit Cambodia.
Data from the Ministry of Tourism shows the ASEAN countries as having a 41.3 per cent share, or 712,380 tourists arrivals out of the Cambodia's total foreign tourist arrivals.
Hussein hopes the fair will provide more opportunities for the two countries to seek and exchange views. "I see more progress of business from Cambodia to Malaysia and from Malaysia to Cambodia in the near future,” he said.
“I hope this three-day-event will not only promote and bring awareness of Malaysian products but also will make Cambodian friends to be aware of medical and health facilities as well as services."
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Malaysia rose to US$319.5 million in 2011, an increase of 34 per cent year-on-year compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Malaysian embassy.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at firstname.lastname@example.org