Cambodia and Nepal last week signed their first air service agreement (ASA), which allows 14 weekly flights between both countries, according to Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA).
The agreement was made during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official three-day visit to Kathmandu, Nepal last week, during which he also attended the Asia-Pacific Summit.
SSCA spokesman Sinn Chanserey Vutha said Nepal has become the 45th country to have an ASA with Cambodia. Passengers en route to Nepal currently need to make a connecting flight to Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore.
Vutha said the deal is an opening air service for airlines from both countries to conduct market research before allowing direct flights.
“A direct flight between Cambodia and Nepal depends on the market. If there is a large market and passenger numbers are good, they can fly directly between the two countries,” he said.
He said in his experience, any flight could be launched three months from the deal. However, it depends on practical work, especially on marketing issues.
Nepal, a South Asian country bordering two major countries – China and India, has a population of nearly 30 million.
Economic and tourism relations between the two countries are currently very limited. Cambodians travel to Nepal mostly for religious purposes, while Nepalese visit Cambodia mostly for tourism.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin welcomed the deal as it would help boost the tourism sector.
“If a direct flight is launched, [nationals from] both countries will invest in [each other’s country], especially in the tourism sector,” she said.
According to an SSCA report, as of September this year, Cambodia’s three international airports received more than 21 per cent growth from the same period last year.
Official data from the Ministry of Tourism show that in the first eight months this year, Cambodia received 3,949,759 foreign visitors, up 11.7 per cent year-on-year, led by Chinese and Vietnamese nationals.
According to the ministry’s forecasts, Cambodia is set to receive about 6.2 million foreign tourists this year, seven million by 2020 and 14 million by 2030.