Direct flights between Cambodia and Indonesia will begin in mid-June, a move which tourism insiders say will be key in the Kingdom reaching its goal of 6.6 million international visitors this year.
The announcement of the direct flights came at a press conference on Saturday in Phnom Penh held by the Ministry of Tourism and Jakarta-based Citilink Indonesia PT low-cost airline.
The new regional route is the third international route launched by Citilink this year after Surabaya-Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur. The airline operates Airbus A320 which can carry up to 180 passengers.
Citilink CEO Juliandra Nurtjahjo said in a press release that the launch of the route is a part of Citilink’s commitment to expand international flight networks and to support Indonesia’s government programmes to increase the number of foreign tourists to Indonesia.
“Citilink Indonesia launches its newest regional route to Phnom Penh International Airport [PNH] in commemoration of the 60th year anniversary of Indonesian-Cambodian diplomatic relations,” he said.
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Chuk Chumno told The Post on Sunday that there had been direct flights between Cambodia and Indonesia prior to 1970, but they were abandoned due to the war in Cambodia.
“Once the direct flight is established, Cambodia not only will receive Indonesian visitors, but it will receive foreign visitors who are visiting Indonesia and also wish to continue on to Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is ready to receive Muslim tourists, said Chumno, adding that the Ministry of Tourism has cooperated with the Ministry of Commerce and other relevant institutions to arrange for many Halal restaurants and accommodation services for Islamic tourism.
“We have plenty of space for them, and we are always pushing for investment in space for them as well,” he said.
Citilink is a subsidiary of PT Garuda Indonesia (Persero) Tbk and serves the low-cost carrier market. The airline serves more than 310 flights daily with 74 routes to 43 cities.
Ministry of Tourism data shows that in the first quarter of this year, Cambodia received 15,411 Indonesian tourists – a 10.8 per cent increase from the same period last year. Last year, Cambodia received 55,753 Indonesian tourists. This was up 11.8 per cent from 2017.
Hor Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, says the direct flights from Indonesia is good news for the Kingdom’s tourism as Indonesia is a country with a population greater than 260 million and is one of the strongest economies in the region.
“The launch of the direct route will bring many Indonesian tourists to Cambodia. Most Indonesians use English, so it is not a problem for tour guides in Cambodia,” he said.
However, Vandy said services catering to Islamic tourism in Cambodia are currently limited. “If they come all at once we will also face a few problems, especially in food service,” he said.
The Jakarta-Phnom Penh route will operate three times per week and the duration of the flight will be 3.5 hours, said Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Cambodia Sudirman Haseng.
“With the growing number of Cambodians travelling abroad – which reached almost two million tourists last year – as well as the excellent development of the Cambodian tourism sector, we believe that the direct flight will attract more travellers to both countries,” he said.