National flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air’s newly-launched Siem Reap-Vientiane route brings an attractive new option for intraregional travellers, which together with the Lao-China railway could draw many more visitors to the Kingdom, civil aviation and tourism industry pundits have suggested.

Cambodia Angkor Air on May 1 formally launched the route, between the home of Angkor Archaeological Park and the Lao capital city, to be operated by an Airbus A321 every Monday with plans to increase frequency down the road.

Flight K6908 is scheduled to depart Siem Reap at 6am and arrive in Vientiane at 7:05am, and flight K6909 is to leave Vientiane at 7:50am and arrive in Siem Reap at 9am.

“The new route is an extension of Cambodia Angkor Air’s commitment to serving passengers by providing convenient connectivity to wonderful destinations in a short time,” the airline said in a statement.

“A journey to both historical wonders is somehow a dream come true for adventurers who seek to explore numerous temples and historical sites, and stunning natural surroundings. Therefore, this new route will attract more tourists and business travellers, which contribute to the development of the tourism and economic sectors of both countries,” it added.

State Secretariat for Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sinn Chanserey Vutha commented that the national flag carrier sees business opportunities in the Lao market, which he said partly stem from an uptick in Chinese tourists driven by the Lao-China railway.

“So, this will be a good start for the airline, in order to serve not only Lao tourists but also other foreign sightseers, especially the Chinese who wish to visit our country,” he said.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on May 2 that the new travel option will provide great impetus for attracting foreign tourists in Laos, which when coupled with the China railway provides easy access to the Kingdom.

“I encourage there to be more international flights from our country, especially intraregionally, given the fast tourism recovery seen within the region, particularly from China.

“Meanwhile, Laos has very easy access to China via railway, and Chinese tourists could come to Cambodia on Cambodia Angkor Air’s new route,” he said.

The flag carrier currently flies domestically between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, as well as internationally to: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang in Vietnam; and Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, Shanghai, Haikou and Macau in China.

The Ministry of Tourism reported that Cambodia received a total of 837,446 international visitors in the January-February period, an increase of 778.6 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Thailand accounted for the lion’s share of the visitors, at 274,950 or 32.8 per cent, which was up 950.7 per cent year-on-year, followed by Vietnam (131,196; 15.7%; up 396.4%), mainland China (79,435; 9.5%; up 1347.2%) and Laos (41,040; 4.9%; up 16719.7%).

In 2022, Cambodia received nearly 2.28 million international visitors, up 1,059 per cent compared to 2021. Visitors from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos altogether numbered 1.41 million last year, representing an increase of 1,252.55 per cent versus a year earlier.

A visitor in the context of these statistics is a person travelling to the Kingdom, “staying at least overnight and not exceeding a specific period for leisure, recreation, business and other legal tourism purposes; and not relevant to the purpose of permanent residence or any remunerated activities”, as defined by the ministry.