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Visitors to Kingdom outpacing last year

TOURIST arrivals through Cambodia’s major land checkpoints increased substantially in the first half of the year, while officials said the number of Thai visitors fell.

Russian and American tourists, in particular, had entered the Kingdom in greater numbers through Poipet, even as border fighting took place in the northern provinces, Leak Romanea, director of administration at the Poipet police office checkpoint, said.

Continued peace on the border would likely spur further increases, he said.

“A good situation with Thailand, such as we have today, could lead to double the number of tourists [entering through Poipet] later this year.”

Some 216,776 foreigners crossed into the Kingdom through the Poipet border checkpoint between January and June, a 52 per cent increase on the 141,805 visitors in the corresponding period last year, according to statistics provided by the checkpoint.

However, 16 per cent fewer Thai tourists entered during this period, with 10,320 Thais entering through Poipet in the first six months.

“We believe that Thai tourists will increase this year when we have a good political situation,” Leak Romanea said.

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s largest land border crossing, the Bavet international crossing with Vietnam, saw a 15 per cent year-on-year increase to 317,025 foreign arrivals in the first six months, according to the checkpoint’s statistics.

About 80 per cent of the foreign tourists entering through Bavet are Vietnamese, with the remainder largely Westerners, Bavet international border crossing chief of immigration Khuy Kry said yesterday.

Cambodia and Vietnam’s strong relationship had contributed to the increase, he said.

“We have strong relations with each other. We hope to see the number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia growing more and more in this year.”

More than 1,000 Vietnamese enter Cambodia every day, headed to Angkor Wat, as well as Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, Khuy Kry said.

Kong Sophearak, director of the Ministry of Tourism’s Department of Statistics and Information, said the two checkpoints were traditionally the two main land entry points for international tourists to Cambodia.

Ministry of Tourism figures show a total of 1.2 million international visitors came to Cambodia in the first five months, a 13 per cent increase on the 1.1 million visitors in the corresponding period of 2010.

Vietnam, the largest source of arrivals for the period, saw a 16.2 per cent increase to 234,485 visitors during the period.

South Korea was second with a 20.4 per cent jump to 151,056 total arrivals, followed by China, which had a 33.5 per cent rise to 99,531.

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