Tourism industry players expect more Vietnamese visitors and investors to visit Cambodia following the commitment of the leaders of both countries to strengthen and expand direct flights from Hanoi to Siem Reap, home to the Kingdom’s renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Wat.

Prime Minister Hun Manet and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh agreed to enhance direct flights between Hanoi and Siem Reap at the Cambodia-Vietnam Trade and Investment Promotion Forum, held in the Vietnamese capital on December 12.

The initiative is expected to bring mutual benefits, such as an increase in tourists and investors, and to facilitate travel and transportation.

During the event, Vietjet announced the inauguration of the new route, stating that beginning December 15, the airline will operate seven round-trip flights per week on the Siem Reap-Hanoi route, with each flight lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said more flights between the two locales would help Cambodia welcome a greater number of foreign visitors. 

She highlighted that Hanoi’s direct flights to numerous countries worldwide enhance its accessibility. She anticipates that improved connectivity will boost the number of Vietnamese and other foreign visitors. 

According to Sivlin, prior to the Covid-19 crisis, Cambodia had direct flights from Vietnamese cities such as Da Nang, in addition to those from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. 

“By enhancing these flights, Cambodia expects to attract more international tourists and foreign investment. With more tourists, economic growth will also increase as visitor spending rises,” she said.

Khieu Thy, president of the Khmer Angkor Tourist Guide Association (KATGA), said on December 13 that direct flights between Vietnam’s major cities and Siem Reap have been operational for about 10 years. 

He believes the agreement reached on December 12 will encourage both countries’ aviation sectors to further strengthen and expand their flight services. 

Thy noted that a significant number of Vietnamese visitors currently travel to Cambodia by bus. 

“Enhancing and expanding flight cooperation will greatly contribute to Siem Reap’s tourism, as many foreign guests visit Cambodia after Vietnam,” he said. 

He added that there were direct flights from other cities in addition to those from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City pre-pandemic.

Thy emphasised the need for the government and private sector to collaborate more actively to extend the stays of foreign guests.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesperson for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said that enhancing and expanding direct flights plays a crucial role in attracting more tourists and foreign investors. 

He noted that Cambodia-Vietnam flight services are exhibiting a positive trend. 

“With the prime minister’s visit to Vietnam, we anticipate even more active flights between the two countries,” he stated.

Data from the Ministry of Tourism indicate that in the first 10 months of 2023, the Kingdom welcomed over 4.4 million foreign visitors, a 179.7% increase compared to the same period in 2022. Among these, 825,970 were from Vietnam, marking a 141.5% rise year-on-year. Vietnamese visitors constituted 18.7% of total foreign visitors.