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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hot growth in tourism continues to boost economy

Hot growth in tourism continues to boost economy

The recently released Ministry of Tourism report for 2006 shows that Cambodia's

tourism industry continues to experience steady growth, with almost two million

tourists entering the country last year.

International arrivals peaked at

a record 1.7 million, an increase of 19.6 percent from 2005, and earnings from

the industry grew by some 26 percent to $1.05 billion.

Lay Prohas, the

minister of tourism, said the growth was a huge benefit to the

Kingdom.

"Our biggest potential field in Cambodia is tourism," Prohas

said. "Tourism creates jobs and brings steady income for the nation and leads to

development."

Ly Korm, president of Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers

Federation, said the industry is now a major employer.

"Now about

660,000 people get jobs in the tourism industry, compared to about 330,000 in

factories," he said.

But Korm warned the accelerated growth had placed

pressure on employees' rights.

"I have seen a lot of abuses of the labor

law," he said. "Some workers don't have annual leave, and don't get a day off

each week. And when workers take a few days off for health reasons their salary

is cut."

The report showed that the largest source of tourists was the

Republic of Korea, providing 16.8 percent of visitors in 2006, followed by

Japan, 9.3 percent, US, 7.3 percent, and Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia,

Thailand, UK and France, each contributing between 4 and 5 percent. The average

length of a stay for an individual tourist increased to 6.5 days, compared with

6.3 in 2005, with an average daily spending rate of $95, up $2.

Almost 80

percent of international visitors cited holiday as the main reason for traveling

to Cambodia. Business, official travel, visiting friends and relatives, and

other reasons made up the remaining 20 percent.

Air transport remained

the most popular mode of entry into the country - accounting for 60.4% of total

international arrivals.

International arrivals via land and water check

points increased 33.2 percent, with the Thai border crossing at Poipet the most

frequented, followed by Preah Vihear, and the Vietnamese border crossings of

Bavet, Cham Yeam, Daung, Sihanoukville, and Kaamsamnor.

Prohas was

confident that the growth could be sustained over the long term.

"In the

future, tourism will continue to contribute to the development of the country,"

he said. "Cambodia is good for tourists. Cambodians are always smiling and are

warm and hospitable and we have all kinds of attractions, both cultural and

natural."

"My vision hope for next ten or twenty years, is to attract as

many tourists as there are Cambodians," he said. "One tourist for every

Cambodian."

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