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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New figures show large decline in tourism arrivals to Cambodia

New figures show large decline in tourism arrivals to Cambodia

Ministry releases full data for arrivals for first six months with Vietnam
the only country to see increased tourist numbers among top six nations

Tourism Decline
H1 tourist figures by country:

  1. Vietnam - 147,700, up 40pc
  2. SKorea - 106,300, down 34pc
  3. Japan - 70,100, down 14pc
  4. China - 62,100, down 11pc
  5. Thailand - 50,800, down 25pc
  6. Australia - 38,900, down 10pc

Source: Ministry of Tourism

THE Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday released its full figures for the first six months of the year, showing an overall decline in the numbers of foreign visitors.

The number of South Koreans visiting Cambodia dropped more than any other, down one-third from 160,400 to 106,300.

The numbers of tourists from other key visitor nations such as Japan, China, Thailand and Australia were also down between one-quarter and 10 percent.

On Tuesday the ministry released partial figures showing that Vietnamese nationals now comprise the largest number of foreign tourists, with numbers up 40 percent to 147,700, while also issuing data for tourist arrivals from South Korea, previously the No 1 visitor to the Kingdom.

The ministry warned that the effect on employees in the industry was pronounced. In a survey of 72 hotels the ministry determined that between a third and a half of jobs had been cut at 12 hotels, and that working hours had been reduced by the same proportion at the remaining 60 hotels.

We expect that the number of tourists ... will leap later this year.

Around 300,000 Cambodians work in the tourism sector, with "between 50 and 60 percent" employed at hotels, guesthouses and other tourist accommodation.
Tourism Ministry Secretary of State So Mara said Wednesday the main factor in the lower numbers is the global economic crisis.

But he is optimistic the clouds over the sector will lift, and said the government and private sector are working on strategies to reverse the decline.
"We expect that the number of tourists from these five countries will leap later this year because we already preparing to hire airtime in those countries to woo tourists," So Mara said.

The ministry spent around US$340,000 on its "Kingdom of Wonder" ad campaign that aired on CNN in July 2008. So Mara said the ministry would replicate that and buy airtime from TV channels in South Korea, China and Japan.

The ministry's campaign was welcomed by Luu Meng, the president of the Cambodian Hotel Association. He said television advertising and this week's launch of national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air would both help.

"And we hope the number of tourists visiting Cambodia will pick up from the end of September, because that is the start of the tourism season," Luu Meng said.

Cutbacks necessary
He added that moves by hotel operators to cut staff numbers and working hours was understandable as a short-term solution to the problem of lower visitor numbers.

"There will be nothing to worry about provided they don't actually close down their hotels," he said.

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