THE number of foreign tourists visiting the Kingdom dropped 2.5 percent in May compared with the same month last year.
Ministry of Tourism statistics show 145,500 tourists visited the country last month against 149,300 in May 2008, and visits to Angkor Wat were down by 14 percent to 62,200. That was partly offset by visits to Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province up 8 percent to 83,400.
"Unlike Phnom Penh or Preah Sihanouk province which have business activities, Siem Reap is purely a tourism hub," said Kong Sopheareak, director of the ministry's statistics and information department. "So when foreign tourists are hit by the financial crisis, numbers of tourists to Angkor Wat also drop sharply."
He said numbers would rise in the second half once the national airline launches in July, and that the year should end 2 percent up on 2008.
But optimism was not shared by Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the government-private sector tourism working group, who said he does not believe tourism will see a boost in 2009.