Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has described how increases in domestic and international tourist numbers, especially during the Khmer New Year holiday, are an indicator that the Kingdom’s tourism industry may return to pre-Covid-19 levels as early as late 2025 or early 2026.

While addressing an April 26 Club of Cambodian Journalists press conference on the development of Preah Sihanouk, he also described how his ministry has prepared a roadmap predicting a rapid increase in tourist numbers as Covid-19 cases taper off.

“The current situation is consistent with the roadmap we have prepared. Over the Khmer New Year period, more than 13 million tourists travelled the country, equal to the total number for the whole of 2022,” he said.

“International tourist numbers are also in line with our estimates. We anticipate that they will return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of 2025 or the beginning of 2026. Last year, we welcomed 2.2 million international visitors, but we have already received 1.2 million in the first quarter of the year – we may see four million international visitors this year,” he added.

Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the growth of domestic and international visitors in the first quarter of the year was a positive sign for the tourism industry, and agreed with Khon’s estimate of a two or three year recovery to pre-pandemic levels.

“We are very pleased with the explosive growth that the industry has experienced following the reopening of the country. But drawing in more foreign guests requires close cooperation between the tourism minister and the private sector, along with the people of Cambodia,” he added.

According to a ministry report, from April 17-23 – one week after the traditional Khmer New Year –789,473 tourists, , including 753,708 Cambodians and 35,765 foreign residents, travelled around the Kingdom. An average week would see 250,000 to 300,000 people touring the country.