Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Myanmar effect hits local tourism

Myanmar effect hits local tourism

Myanmar effect hits local tourism

130111 10b
A Thai tourist lights a candle as she prays at the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, in November of last year. Reuters

MYANMAR’S rising popularity in the tourism sector affected several travel services in Cambodia that claim to have lost customers, especially from Europe, insiders told the Post yesterday.

Kim Nou, country manager of Cambodian tour operator Other Ways, explained: “We noticed fewer tourists from Europe last year. One reason for that is the economic crisis, another is the recent development in Myanmar. Some customers might have preferred Myanmar over Cambodia.”

Nick Ray, adviser at tour operator Hanuman, says travel businesses have been affected for two main reasons: trips to Thailand were combined with Cambodia, but would now often be twinned with Myanmar. Myanmar also has about five to 10 destinations, which is more than Cambodia.

Hanuman, however, dealing mostly with European, UK, US, Australian and regional markets, has not been affected. Its numbers grew about 10 to 15 per cent from 2011 to 2012.

“We offer trips to Cambodia as a standalone [only] destination. Such trips still attract a lot of people, especially regular customers,” Ray said.

However, according to the adviser, the growth in the tourism sector in Myanmar could tail off soon. “Burma is in danger of losing support because of its pricing policy,” he said. Hotel rates would have increased 100 per cent in the past year, and might further increase dramatically.

He also expects coastal areas and islands of Cambodia to attract more tourists over the next few years.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association for Travel Agents, said he did not notice any changes in the sector because of Myanmar.

“Every ASEAN country has a unique profile, even if the competition has increased. Cambodia is not expensive, and European tourists especially stay here longer than tourists from Southeast Asian countries,” he said.

About 470,000 tourists in Cambodia came from Europe in the first 10 months of 2012, with the bulk coming from the UK, France, and Russia, according to statistics from the Ministry of Tourism’s October report. While it is an 11.3 per cent increase from the same period in 2011, it is lower than the 23.7 per cent overall increase in tourists to Cambodia over that period.

The number of tourists to Cambodia last year looks set to be the highest ever. The kingdom attracted some 2,868,000 tourists in the first 10 months of 2012, only slightly less than the record 2,882,000 tourists set in the whole of 2011.

This likely record-breaking performance was boosted by ASEAN countries, from which 1,234,000 visitors arrived in Cambodia in the first 10 months of 2012 – which is 36.2 per cent more than in the same period in 2011.

“Even though Myanmar attracted more visitors in 2012, Cambodia’s big potential through its cultural heritage remains. However, many people travel to more than one destination in the region,” Tith Chan Tha, director-general of the Ministry of Tourism, said.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, is not afraid of this new trend in the market.

“I confirm that we noticed that, to some, other destinations like Myanmar were more attractive. This is the reason why we should co-operate more with the private and public sectors of other countries in the region,”

he said.
The Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism doesn’t see other travel destinations in ASEAN countries as reliant on the others, but, he said: “We follow the ‘win-win strategy’. [We] aim to establish

multinational partnerships. [Therefore] Cambodia has to improve marketing and promotion of the tourism sector.”
For Lav Heng, sales agent for Myanmar Airlines, it is too early to say how attractive the travel connections between Myanmar and Cambodia will be for tourists. “During the past few months most of our customers used our service for business reasons; the number of tourists was small. Meanwhile, more European tourists travelled to Myanmar, about 30 per cent more than flew with Myanmar Airlines in 2011.”

Those in the tourism industry, however, are optimistic. Ang Kim Eang said: “We hope 2013 will be a good year for the tourism sector. We have more airlines, better infrastructure and the single visa with Thailand. Also, last year’s investments in hotels and guesthouses should pay off.”

The Ministry of Tourism, plans to further implement the National Strategic Development Plan, to improve the service industry and standardise the hotel sector, Tith Chan Tha of the tourism ministry said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped