Cambodia needs to be better prepared to attract and accommodate a new type of Chinese tourist, said Hamburg, Germany-based China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (Cotri).
There are currently two types of Chinese visitors in Cambodia, Cotri said, including big-package tour groups spilling out of coach buses for sightseeing, shopping and endless selfies and small groups of self-organised tourists, mostly younger, English-speaking and more interested in the local culture and cuisine.
According to Cotri, a third group has evolved – the “customised tour group”.
Cotri director Wolfgang Georg Arlt said after a decade of growing outbound tourism, more and more Chinese have not only the money but also the experience that enables them to clearly identify what they want to do while travelling with their friends, family or colleagues.
“This new wave of sophisticated demand from China offers new opportunities for Cambodia’s destinations and tourism service providers,” he said.
However, it also comes with the need for a deeper understanding of the Chinese outbound tourism market.
For Cambodia, the significance of the new opportunities to attract Chinese travellers lies not just in increasing the number of arrivals, but in keeping previous levels of income, according to a Cotri report.
“In many regions of Cambodia the amount of spending per traveller per day is declining, as shopping has become less important and new tailor-made products and services have not been developed in Cambodia in sufficient numbers,” said the report.
Cotri’s research shows that many Chinese guests would be able and willing to spend more money in Cambodia if they could find adequate specific activities for families, older travellers, art or nature lovers.
Cambodian Association of Travel Agents adviser Hor Vandy said on Sunday that the number of Chinese tourists travelling to Cambodia through tour company arrangements has seen a strong decline recently due to the rise in independent travellers.
“Previously, the arrival of Chinese tourists was completely organised by tour companies, including lodging, food venues, shopping and also recreational trips. The trend is currently changing, with visitors looking to explore other options,” he said.
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Chuk Chumno said: “The growth of Chinese tourists to Cambodia, in any form, is entirely positive for Cambodia’s economic growth.”
Offering customised travel services based on better knowledge can help disperse visitors into different regions, attract them outside of peak season and have them stay longer and spend more money.
Cotri forecasts 400 million outbound trips from China in 2030, so the Kingdom better prepare for the next waves of Chinese visitors, it said.