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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tourist crossings into Poipet increase 25pc

Tourist crossings into Poipet increase 25pc

Figures for first six months show increase on same period last year, tourism official says.

THE number of tourists crossing into Cambodia through the Poipet land crossing on the Thai border rose one-quarter in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, an official said Thursday.

Chhung Lim, the director of the provincial tourism department, told the Post that 152,600 foreign nationals had come through Poipet so far this year, up from 124,300 in the first six months of 2008.

"We are seeing this increase because we have quality infrastructure, a quick service and good security," he said. "Also many travel agencies are offering competitive prices to enter Cambodia overland here."

Chhung Lim said another reason - accounting for one-third of the increase - is that citizens from Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines use the crossing as a visa run before returning to Thailand.

The largest increase was crossings by Vietnamese citizens, whose numbers were up more than threefold to 13,500 visitors. Chhung Lim said many Vietnamese citizens travelling to Thailand preferred the cheaper overland option through Cambodia.

The largest drop was in Thai tourists, down almost half to 12,200 visitors.

Sao Bunrith, the chief of the immigration police at the border crossing, said the rise in tourist crossings at Poipet came despite the problems of the global economic crisis, Thai political unrest and swine flu.

"These days we are seeing 900 to 1,000 tourists crossing daily. Whenever the political situation in Thailand is quiet, the number of tourists crossing our checkpoint always rises," he said. "Most are coming overland to see Angkor Wat."

Ho Vandy, the co-chair of the Tourism Working Group and head of the national travel agent association, welcomed the increase.

"That's a good sign for our tourism industry because we have recently been working hard to improve our service and cut costs to attract tourists," he said Ho Vandy.

Chhung Lim said South Koreans made up the third-largest group of foreign nationals crossing at Poipet with 9,900 citizens (down 41 percent).

The number of UK nationals was up 13 percent to 8,700, and US citizens were up 12 percent to 5,600.

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