Siem Reap is expected to attract an increasing number of travellers from early 2024, following the government’s announcement of the “Visit Siem Reap Year 2024” campaign.
Prime Minister Hun Manet noted the critical role of tourism in providing jobs for Cambodians and its substantial contribution to the national economy prior to the Covid-19 crisis, during the 19th Government-Private Sector Forum at the Peace Palace on November 13.
He acknowledged the severe impact of the pandemic, which continues to affect the industry, and pointed out that the number of foreign visitors is increasing but still hasn’t reached pre-Covid levels, particularly in major destinations like Siem Reap.
“We all acknowledge that [the province] has been the hardest hit among Cambodian destinations. The government’s introduction of special measures to promote tourism in Siem Reap is necessary,” he said.
He added that improvements in the province would also positively impact other regions. He clarified that focusing on Siem Reap doesn’t mean neglecting other areas, but that the current priority is to implement various measures in the province first, in order to attract more visitors to the country in general.
He explained that the programme comprises various initiatives, including enhancing border hospitality, streamlining online procedures, bolstering security, integrating security cameras, broadening the range of border passes and evaluating the potential for providing financial support to tourism ventures in the province.
He added that the plan also includes offering tax relief for related enterprises, waiving interim penalties on Angkor Tour Guide and Translator licenses, improving flight connections, upgrading infrastructure and urban aesthetics and engaging in promotional efforts.
Khieu Thy, president of the Khmer Angkor Tourist Guide Association (KATGA), expressed the private sector’s enthusiasm for welcoming more guests to the province, while noting the current number of foreign visitors is still low compared to before 2020.
“We are very pleased with the initiatives the government has set and expect an influx of national and international travellers,” he said.
He further added that the authorities must also focus on improving sanitation and waste management in public places.
According to the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Tourism, as of September 2023, the province has 831 operational tourism businesses, which is more than 71% of the 1,165 tourism related companies in the province. They include accommodation services, hotels and restaurants.
According to the tourism ministry, from January to September 2023, the Kingdom welcomed 3,926,882 foreign travellers, marking a 210.2% increase compared to 1,265,772 in the same period in 2022.
Thailand was the largest source of these visitors, contributing 1,339,540 (34.1% of the total), showing an increase of 189.5%. Vietnam followed with 730,075 (18.6%, up by 156%), China with 405,514 (10.3%, an increase of 549.6%) and Laos with 251,658 (6.4%, up by 548.9%).
Other significant countries of origin included the US, South Korea, Indonesia, France, Russia and the UK, as per the ministry.