The new Cambodia-Morocco air services agreement (ASA) has raised hopes among the tourism industry for a sizeable uptick in African travellers to the Kingdom.

The agreement was signed in Morocco at a March 27 ceremony by State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall and Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita, the Cambodian foreign ministry noted in a statement.

An ASA is a formal bilateral treaty allowing international commercial air transport services to operate between signatories.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan believes that the deal will spark interest in launching passenger and cargo flights between the two countries.

“We welcome the opening of new flights with new countries, as they not only make it easier for tourists to travel between the two countries, but also attract investment and facilitate trade,” he told The Post on March 28.

Direct commercial flights connecting Cambodia to Morocco would make the Arab League member a more attractive destination for tourists from other African countries looking to travel to the Kingdom, he argued.

SSCA spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha confidently told The Post on March 28 that the ASA will boost civil aviation relations, and pave the way for air passenger and cargo transport links.

“The agreement will help improve air passenger inflows, and further develop trade, tourism and other economic sectors between our two countries,” he said.

He said the ASA would allow code-share arrangements between airlines from either country, as well as direct flights, as per the Fifth Freedom of The Air.

UN agency International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines the fifth freedom as “the right or privilege, in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one state to another state to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first state, traffic coming from or destined to a third state”.

According to Chansereyvutha, Cambodia has signed ASAs or similar memorandums of understanding (MoU) with 48 countries and territories.

For reference, Morocco accounted for 240 of the 4,977 African visitors to Cambodia in 2022, compared to 868 of 12,435 in 2018, and 846 out of 12,752 in 2017, which respectively marked all-time records for Moroccan and African travellers to the Kingdom, according to tourism ministry statistics.