FIRST-HALF TOURISM DOWNTURN
The East Asia Pacific Economic Update released on Monday by the World Bank comments on the tourism downturn in Cambodia, noting that, “Tourism sector growth has decelerated with a year-on-year arrival of only 5.2 per cent during the first six months, owing to political turmoil in neighbouring Thailand and tensions between Vietnam and China.”
SKIES ALIVE WITH NEW AIRLINES
The skies above Siem Reap will become even busier with a spate of new airlines servicing the city. On Monday operations were approved for a new “Chinese-invested airline” Bassaka Air which has leased its planes from NagaCorp.
The airline has partnered with China International Travel Services and will initially operate two weekly Airbus A320 flights from gambling mecca Macao to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Last month, the Civil Aviation authority also granted an air operator certificate to Apsara International Air, a joint-venture between private Chinese and Cambodian investors.
Meanwhile, Aviation International News reports that start-up carrier Cambodia Bayon Airlines is awaiting its air operator certificate to initially begin servicing the Cambodian domestic market.
Aviation International News reports, “Bayon plans first to fly between Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, before expanding internationally to China, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The carrier plans to use 10 Airbus A320s on international routes and wants to expand eventually to Japan and Korea…
“With no foreign ownership restrictions, Cambodia has become an attractive market for investors. The nation has seen a rapid expansion of cross-border Chinese traffic, four providers of which–China Eastern, China Southern, Spring Airlines and Xiamen Airlines–operate year round. In early March, China and Cambodia signed an open-skies agreement scheduled to take effect next year.”
In another move, Small Planet Airlines Polska will base two A320-200s in Siem Reap from November as part of an agreement with Cambodian carrier, Skywings Asia Airlines.
The deal runs until March next year and the two aircraft will fly between Siem Reap and cities in China and South Korea.
Small Planet Airlines holds air operator certificates in Poland and Lithuania, and operates 11 aircraft in the UK, Polish, Lithuanian and Italian markets.
Back on the ground, news broke this month that Dufry and Cambodia Airports renewed their contract agreement to operate duty free retail outlets at Siem Reap International Airport and Phnom Penh International Airport.
The new agreement states that Dufry will continue to operate duty free retail at both airports until 2020. Dufry can also increase its retail area at both airports by more than 100 per cent.
SIEM REAP OUTLOOK
Hospitality intelligence outfit HVS Asia Pacific in its latest Siem Reap outlook said, “Siem Reap has seen increased support from foreign investors and with proper execution of plans the town should see organised development with long term social and economical benefits. This growth should fuel the emergence of support industries, such as education and retail among others leading to an overall growth in Siem Reap’s economy.”
Games fans can dust off their dice at Marum this Sunday with a special game day from 1pm to 6pm. Guests can bring their own games and Friends International, the organisation behind Marum, has several available too, including the old stalwart Uno as well as modern strategy games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Castle Panic and more.
Organiser Marieke Hensel says that the games day is a trial to find out if people want to start meeting regularly. She hosted games nights in Los Angeles for five years, and she has selected games that were nominated or won the annual Spiel des Jahre award in Essen, Germany.
The day is free but organisers hope gamers will support the training restaurant by buying drinks and food.