Cambodia has seen a dramatic rise in air passengers this year, but the country’s reputation faces hurdles due to negative media attention, according to officials.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), stated on September 12 that over the first eight months of this year, the Kingdom welcomed more than 3.4 million flyers, an increase of over 180 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The country also saw 33,146 flights, a rise of 114 per cent, but witnessed a decline in cargo imports by over 10 per cent.

He noted that despite reporting a significant increase in visitors, the country’s image has been marred by foreign media. Recent reports have painted the country as a haven for internet scammers and kidnappers.

“The situation on the ground doesn’t entirely match these negative portrayals,” Chanserey Vutha said.

Thourn Sinan, head of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), echoed these concerns, saying the damaging coverage has significantly impacted the return of foreign tourists, particularly from Europe and ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Sinan noted that recent incidents involving money laundering by individuals holding Cambodian passports have further dented the country’s reputation.

“We need to counter this narrative to rebuild trust among international travellers,” Sinan added.

While air travel to Cambodia shows signs of robust growth, challenges remain in reassuring tourists about the safety and legitimacy of visiting the country.