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Asian visitors continue to drive tourism in the Kingdom

Chinese tourists visit Wat Phnom pagoda in Phnom Penh on February 4. AFP
Chinese tourists visit Wat Phnom pagoda in Phnom Penh on February 4. AFP

Asian visitors continue to drive tourism in the Kingdom

Foreign tourist arrivals to the Kingdom saw a 5.4 per cent increase for the first eight months of the year, as compared with the same period in 2014, with the Vietnamese and Chinese nationals continuing to top the arrivals list.

The Ministry of Tourism’s August tourist arrivals report showed more than 3 million tourists entering the country for the first eight months, compared to the 2.88 million for the same period last year.

Vietnamese tourists increased 11.5 per cent, with Chinese arrivals seeing a bump of more than 26 per cent.

“The increase of Chinese arrivals to Cambodia is due to the rise of investment opportunities in the country,” said Kong Sopheareak, director of statistics at the Tourism Ministry.

However, tourist visits from Japan, a country with increasing amounts of investment in Cambodia, slowed by 15 per cent due to concerns surrounding the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, Sopheareak added.

Visitors from neighbouring Thailand increased 20 per cent to over 187,000 tourists, and Europeans, which contributes a sizeable chunk of tourist arrivals, saw a small dip of 3 per cent in tourists entering the Kingdom, according to the report.

Ho Vandy, an advisor to Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said that the good diplomatic relations between China was a factor driving the growth of Chinese tourists.

“When diplomatic relations are good, investment in other services also increases, especially in air travel,” he said, adding that there are now direct flights from China to both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

According to Vandy, promoting the use of cruise ships was a sound long-term investment, given that waterway arrivals at Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh increased 61 per cent. Airport arrivals grew 19 per cent, with international airports at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap seeing a 17 and 4.5 per cent increase respectively.

Cambodia generated nearly $3 billion in revenue from the tourism sector last year and the government expects to attract around 5 million tourists by the end of this year.

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