DESPITE political instability and rising crime against foreigners, the tourism business
is still good and journalists shouldn't be so negative about the situation, according
to some tour and hotel operators.
"We have had no cancellation of tour packages. The numbers are still strong
for us," said Andrej Wicke of Diethelm Travel. Compared with 400 in April, the
month of May saw the number of clients down to 350.
The decline was "normal" as May is always the start of the low-peak, rainy
season for the tourism market, and his company was already taking bookings for Siem
Reap in November and December.
"We are expecting a busy 1996-97 season," Wicke said, adding that "we
are hoping for political stability."
A tour operator at the Apex company, which deals with many Japanese tourists, said
the company dealt with more than 100 tourists in May.
The operator, who would not be named, said that the company was being "extra
careful" with clients' safety, such as not allowing them to travel without a
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the first quarter of 1996 saw a 32.5 percent
rise in foreign arrivals over the same period in 1995.
Sok Chenda, under-secretary of state of the Ministry of Tourism, said that the wave
of robberies was a worry. "This kind of thing, and the information [printed
in newspapers] could harm the tourism business."
Others blamed the media for exaggerating the situation.
"The media makes a big deal about this but tourists from outside say the roberries
are like in their own countries," said a tour operator of East-West Travel.
"What I'm upset about is the press tries to blow it up. Crime and insecurity
are everywhere. It's a question where you wander into," said a marketing executive
of a major hotel.