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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tourism campaign for Cambodia suspended

Tourism campaign for Cambodia suspended

091005_07
Tourists walk around Angkor Wat in Siem Reap last year. The Tourism Ministry has delayed a television ad campaign aimed at promoting travel to the Kingdom, said Minister Thong Khon.

Television advertising not ready to go on air, says Ministry of Tourism, as analysts warn travel industry remains sluggish

THE Ministry of Tourism has suspended plans to air television advertising spots in key Asian markets next month, saying it had not given itself enough time to produce the advertisements.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the campaign would instead be launched “some time next year”.

“We cannot run them on time this year because we need more time to be well-prepared for the campaign,” he said.

The spots were due to air in China, South Korea and Japan, three of Cambodia’s most important tourist source countries. Arrivals from all three countries have plummeted since late last year in the wake of the global economic slowdown.

The ministry was talking to television networks in all three countries to persuade them to run travel programmes focused on Cambodia in the interim, Thong Khon said.

Arrivals from South Korea, which used to be the top source of visitors to the Kingdom, have fallen 31.23 percent in the first eight months of the year to 123,729, Ministry of Tourism figures released last month showed. Japanese visitors fell 14.05 percent over the same period to 77,305 while arrivals from China fell 10.24 percent to 70,135.

The fall in visitors from these countries was offset by a 43.66 percent rise in arrivals from Vietnam to 172,171 and a 126.29 percent rise in arrivals from Laos, boosting the number of visitors from Cambodia’s northern neighbour from 27,161 to 61,462. Overall visitor numbers rose 1.37 percent to 1,422,003 as a result during the first eight months compared to last year, the figures showed.

Underlying downturn
However, International Monetary Fund resident representative John Nelmes told a lunch hosted by the Australian Business Association of Cambodia on Friday that the gain in overland arrivals was a poor substitute for a double-digit decline in air arrivals, with tourists from across the frontier usually expected to spend less and stay for a much shorter time.

The ministry’s latest figures showed a 13 percent slide in air arrivals in the first eight months of 2009 year-on-year, whereas land arrivals were up 20.54 percent.

Nelmes’ warning of a near-term contraction in the tourism sector followed the visit last month of an IMF delegation from Washington that predicted a 2.75 percent contraction in the economy this year, dragged down by poor performance in the tourism, garment export and construction sectors.

Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the Government-Private Sector Forum’s tourism working group, said the private sector for a long time had been pushing the government to air the commercials.

“When we promote our tourism industry ... especially if our promotion is in their [local] languages, it means we are doing the right thing for our tourism sector,” he said.

The government should also look at a private-sector proposal to offer visa exemptions and find other ways to facilitate entry into the Kingdom, he added.

Thong Khon declined to say how much the campaign would cost. The ministry spent around US$340,000 in July last year on a series of “Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” commercials appearing on US-based network CNN.

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