Despite current tensions between North and South Korea, Cambodia’s tourism minister said yesterday that the number of tourists from South Korea to the Kingdom had not dropped.
“I don’t see any cancellations or suspensions of flights or a decline in the number of South Korean visitors to our country over the recent tensions,” Minister of Tourism Thong Khong told the Post.
However, Ho Vandy, representative of the tourism private sector, raised concerns over the issue.
“It is a big challenge, because South Korean tourists are very important to us. If the situation worsens, there would be a big impact on our tourism industry like we faced with Japanese tourists,” he said, referring to the drop-off in the number of Japanese visitors following the 2011 tsunami. Before the tsunami, he added, Japan had the largest number of tourists visiting Cambodia.
In the latest in the military crisis between the two Koreas, the North yesterday blocked access to a key joint industrial zone with South Korea as heightened rhetoric has put both sides on edge.
Khong said that so far there appears to be nothing to worry about. “There are no reports that it [the stand-off] is affecting our tourism industry. But, normally, during the hot season, the number usually declines a bit,” Khong said, adding that in the first two months, the number of tourists from South Korea had jumped eight per cent compared to the same period last year, making it the largest source of tourists for the Kingdom.
Chheuy Chhorn, director of the Siem Reap provincial tourism department confirmed that there has been no drop in South Korean tourist numbers to his province.
“I don’t see any drop, because the number of flights from [the region] is still the same. South Korean tourists were the most numerous to visit my province during the first two months of this year,” he said.
Norinda Khek, communications and PR director of the Phnom Penh International Airport, noted that no flights have been suspended or cancelled.
Official data from the Ministry of Tourism showed that Cambodia received 411,491 South Korean tourists in 2012 compared to 342,810 a year earlier, the second highest after Vietnam.