Cambodians are increasingly travelling overseas for leisure, as the number of the Kingdom’s outbound tourists reached nearly two million last year, a trend that a tourism insider said was due to a change in spending habits of Cambodia’s middle-class.
The Ministry of Tourism’s 2018 report said the number of outbound Cambodian tourists topped 1.81 million between January and November last year – an increase of 12 per cent or 1.6 million compared to the whole of 2017. In 2016, the figure was 1.3 million.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin on Tuesday said the trend of Cambodians going overseas is on an upward curve due to a growing middle-class, rising incomes and better living standards.
“When people can fulfil their basic needs like food and daily spending, they can then afford to spend more on leisure activities,” she said, adding that people want to witness other countries’ development and learn from it.
“When people travel abroad, they can observe a country’s development and new business concepts which they can learn from to boost their incomes.”
An emerging trend
Sivlin said the majority of Cambodians travelling abroad do so through tour agents. Most go to Asean countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore where they spend about $500 to $700 per person per trip.
She said there is an emerging trend of outbound tourists to China, South Korea, Japan, Dubai and Europe’s developed countries.
Sophiya Travel & Tours founder Sreat Mom Sophear said her company organises more and more trips for Cambodians planning holidays abroad, and most of them prefer to travel in large groups.
With rising incomes and the popularity of social media, she noted that Cambodians’ lifestyles have changed and many like to show off by posting places that they visit on social media.
“For some people, a long holiday without any overseas trips is not a complete holiday,” she said, adding that the new trend encourages people to follow examples and encourage others to explore the rest of the world.
“For business people, the more they go abroad, the more they see new business trends. They observe new concepts and apply them to their own businesses at home to satisfy their customers.”
Sreu Sreng, an employee at a private company in Phnom Penh, is scheduled to visit Japan in March this year in the company of his parents after having visited almost all countries in Asean.
He said his six siblings value the benefit of travelling and agreed to split costs for their parents to go abroad.
“We are not very rich yet, but our living conditions are better and we can afford to spend on our parents to travel abroad,” he said.
“They had a hard time raising us, so it is time to compensate them. We believe that if our parents are happy, they will be healthy, and have a long life.”
Sreng said plans are in the works for their parents to visit South Korea and Europe.