Speaking at the opening of the 7th Sea Festival in Koh Kong province on Thursday, Tourism Minister Thong Khon projected that coastal provinces will receive more than four million tourists by the end of the year.

The minister, who was quoting from Ministry of Tourism statistics collected in the first 10 months of this year, projected that the Kingdom’s coastal provinces will receive 4.42 million tourists by the end of the year.

International tourists, he said, were projected to make up 920,000 of that number and domestic tourists 3.5 million.

He said Koh Kong province alone will receive 90,000 international tourists and 600,000 domestic ones. Cambodia’s total international tourists have reached 5.6 million so far this year, a 13.4 per cent increase on the same period last year.

By 2020, Khon said, visitors to the coastal province will hit 1.2 million international tourists and 4.5 million domestic ones. By 2030 the region is projected to be visited by three million international tourists and six million domestic ones.

“These figures are a message for people and relevant parties as it shows the economic and social benefits of tourism for this region. Koh Kong province has a big potential for tourism and ecotourism,” he stressed.

Cambodia Travel Agent Association president Chhay Siv Lin said with the regional increase in international and domestic tourists, enhancing the quality of service they receive across the hospitality sector is vital.

“The growth of tourists keeps increasing. So to meet the demand, tourism operators need to enhance and maintain the quality of service they provide in hospitality. This is key to attracting tourism and promoting economic growth in the region,” she said.

The Sea Festival will be held in Koh Kong province between December 14-16, with an estimated 300,000-400,000 tourists expected to attend. This is the second time that Koh Kong province has hosted the festival, which was held in Kep province last year.