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Coastal economy rises on tourist tide

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Tourists walk along a beach in Sihanoukville last year. Scott Rotzoll

Coastal economy rises on tourist tide

Preah Sihanouk province welcomed nearly 2.4 million tourists in 2016, generating $96 million in revenue, following a significant rise in domestic and international tourist arrivals, a tourism official said yesterday.

Overall arrivals to the coastal province grew by 37 percent last year compared to 2015, according to May Nimol, deputy director of marketing and promotions at Preah Sihanouk’s provincial tourism department.

The growth was driven by a sharp uptake in domestic tourism, with the number of visitors from other Cambodian provinces surging 45 percent last year to reach 1,974,631. International tourist arrivals increased 12 percent last year to reach 404,939, led by visitors from China, Russia and Vietnam, he added.

“Tourist arrivals keep rising because of our high standards of entertainment and beautiful beaches, although our tourism products are still limited,” Nimol said.

He said the local tourism department was working to create more entertainment related products for tourists to increase the ways in which people can enjoy their holidays in Preah Sihanouk province.

“The tourist sector is one of the main sources of our economic development, and last year we earned $96 million in revenue from the sector,” he said.

“We are trying to cooperate with the relevant authorities to promote and improve the entertainment standards and attract greater numbers of tourists.

Ang Seng Eang, destination manager of Angkor TK Travel and Tours, said tourism is an important part of efforts to reduce poverty in Cambodia, but the sector needs to be strengthened by creating more entertainment options for tourists.

“When our tourism sector is growing, people will gain benefits from the sector, such a jobs and increased business operations,” he said.

“However, our entertainment options are still limited.”He argued that investment should be focused on creating entertainment options for foreign retirees visiting the country, “because they like to spend money, but they require high standards of entertainment as well as quality services”.

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