Cambodia Angkor Air will help the Kingdom realise its potential as a tourist destination, Hun Sen says, starting with flights today
The new flights will bring competitiveness to the airline industry.
PRIME Minister Hun Sen described the Kingdom's new national carrier as a bridge for carrying visiting tourists to Cambodia in his speech at the airline's inauguration ceremony on Monday.
Hun Sen said Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA), which starts commercial flights today, can play a significant role in boosting tourism and economic development.
"If Cambodia can increase air travel, then it has the potential to boost tourism more than other countries in the region," Hun Sen said at Phnom Penh International Airport.
He added that air travel has turned the globe into a small village, a development favourable for travel and communications.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said on Monday that CAA, a joint venture between the Cambodian government and state-owned Vietnam Airlines, is to start operating today from Phnom Penh International Airport to Siem Reap, and later to Preah Sihanouk province.
He said CAA will at some future point fly to Bangkok and to destinations in Vietnam and Laos.
Cambodia has lacked its own carrier since the demise of Royal Air Cambodge in 2001.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said the government must act to encourage more domestic and foreign flights to come to the Kingdom.
"We are pushing direct flights from the Philippines to Cambodia to increase the number of tourists in the Kingdom," the minister said, adding that CAA and other flights should see the number of tourists this year at least 2 percent higher than last year.
Figures from the Ministry of Tourism showed that 1.09 million tourists travelled in Cambodia in the first half of the year. That was 1 percent down on the same period last year.
Ang Kem Eang, the president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, welcomed CAA's inaugural flights, but said it will continue to be difficult to boost tourist numbers if the government does not push CAA to fly further than Vietnam and Thailand.
"The new flights will bring competitiveness to the airline industry, which will act as a step to lure more tourists, but flights should not just go to neighbouring nations," Ang Kem Eang said.