THE Ministry of Tourism said Wednesday that it had developed a plan to raise tourist numbers to fight the economic downturn.
Speaking at a forum in Siem Reap, ministry spokesman Toug Koun said the government would make a renewed marketing effort, increase transport efficiency, target neglected markets, reduce package-tour prices and improve the Cambodia tourism "product".
He also identified domestic tourism as an emerging market, adding that Cambodia should add focus to national events to attract crowds from the provinces. Development of Sihanoukville Airport would also help, Toug Koun added.
He said that reducing package-tour prices would foster growth in international travel; but Pascal Deyrolle, vice president of the Cambodian Hotel Association and general manager of Siem Reap's La Residence d'Angkor hotel, said that this alone would not be sufficient.
"There has been a drop of 20 to 30 percent in occupancy in Siem Reap hotels in the first five months of this year," Deyrolle said. "Our concern is that ... people are not flying in."
Deyrolle said the Hotel Association had been approached by airlines, which believed that more flights from more carriers would help growth. "If we could add two more flights daily from Bangkok to Siem Reap, we could potentially bring in an extra 89,000 tourists per year and US$59 million," he said, citing an International Finance Corporation survey.