THE Ministry of Tourism expects the number of tourists visiting the Kingdom to more than double in the next 10 years.
Some 2.3 million foreign visitors are projected to enter Cambodia in 2010, a number which is expected to grow to 6 million by 2020, according to Ministry Director General Tith Chantha.
Speaking to a delegation of Chinese businesses at the Council for the Development of Cambodia on Tuesday, he said growth in tourism would require more hotels to cater for foreign travellers.
Cambodia presently has 438 hotels with 25,000 rooms, but will require 40,000 rooms in 2015 and 70,000 rooms by 2020, he says. The tourism sector could generate as much as US$4 billion in revenue in ten years, he says.
Tith Chantha singled out China as a future source of many of the Kingdom’s visitors.
In the future “I hope that Chinese tourists will visit Cambodia, just like the Mekong River, that flows from China,” he said.
China is presently the fourth largest source of tourists to Cambodia, according to Ministry statistics. Some 140,000 Chinese had visited Cambodia in the year to October, a 41-percent gain on the period from a year earlier, statistics show. Private sector representatives echoed hopes that the sector will grow.
Ho Vandy, head of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said the sector could achieve the growth levels outlined by the Tourism Ministry – provided travel to the Kingdom remained safe.
But a lack of direct flights from large markets was one stumbling block for the industry, according to Luu Meng, president of the Cambodia Hotel Association.
Hotels were likely to gradually increase the number of rooms on offer, but increased direct flights would speed up growth, he said.
CDC Secretary General Sok Cheda said Cambodia’s tourism growth was low compared to neighbouring countries.