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Full steam ahead

Full steam ahead

Cambodia’s small but vital spa industry attracted about 200,000 customers last year and generated about $6 million in revenues, with annual growth of 14 percent forecast for the next two years, according to the first-ever spa industry survey for Cambodia issued late last month by Singapore-based Intelligent Spas.

Intelligent Spas managing director Julie Garrow said the survey was conducted between July 2007 and April 2008.

“We invited all spas in Cambodia to participate and 54 percent of all spas in Cambodia responded,” Garrow wrote by email to the Post on July 9. Intelligent Spas was the only independent research company specializing in the spa industry we has surveyed the industry annually for over five years, she said.

The survey found that there were 35 authentic spa facilities operating in Cambodia, 34 percent of which were stand-alone day spas and 66 percent destination spas operating alongside accommodation.

The spa industry employed about 400 people during 2007.

Oum Khim, deputy chief of the tourism industry department in the Ministry of Tourism, doubted the survey’s estimate of $6 million in revenues.

“The spa industry in Cambodia is growing rapidly, of course, but in a limited fashion and popular only among foreigners,” he said. “There is no official figure of spa facilities available in Cambodia because most of them are included in hotels and only a few have registered with the ministry.”

Kornchmok Dang, the Thai manager of Amara Spas and Café in Phnom Penh’s Duan Penh district, told the Post on July 7 that spas were doing good business and generating strong profits.

“Service fees are between $10 and $25 an hour, and about 25 to 30 customers come and get spa service in my facility,” she said. “We see revenues of from $30,000 to $35,000 a month.”

At the same time, she noted, input costs for operating a spa were very high.

“Every six months, we buy high-quality materials from Italy costing about $100,000,” she said. 

“In the past, when somebody said ‘spa’, we didn’t really know what it was, but now they are popular with both foreigners and higher-income Cambodians,” said Sin Sakonaly, the owner of Banteay Srey Spa in Siem Reap’s Svay Dangkum district.

“We can earn about $1,250 a day in the low season, and up to $7,500 in the high season,” Sin Sakonaly said. In the high season from October to February, the spa welcomed about 300 customers per day and some even had to be turned away, she said.

Kornchmok Dang agreed that spas were becoming an increasingly popular way for middle- and upper-class Cambodians to relax after a hard day at work.

“Spas can help relieve you from headaches, fatigue, depression and fevers,” she said.

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