Direct flights between Cambodia and Indonesia officially began on Friday, and the Kingdom expects to attract more tourists from the world’s largest Islamic country.
A Citylink plane landed at Phnom Penh International Airport on Friday afternoon with 67 passengers.
Citilink, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines, will operate direct flights between Jakarta and Phnom Penh three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said Indonesia is one of the biggest markets in Asia in terms of both economy and population.
“Direct flight connectivity will give Cambodia the opportunity to capture more Indonesian tourists and investors. Indonesia can be said to be a big tourist market in Asia,” she said.
However, Sivlin said Cambodia must be prepared to meet the needs of Indonesian guests, especially in terms of halal food.
“In the past, due to a lack of halal food in Cambodia, most visitors only went to urban centres such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh,” she said.
Pacific Asia Travel Association president Thourn Sinan said Cambodia in the past did not receive many Indonesian visitors due to a lack of direct flights. He said the flights will attract more tourists and investors to the Kingdom.
“The direct flight connection will boost more than just the tourism sector,” he added.
Ministry of Tourism secretary of state Hor Monirath said direct flights between Jakarta and Phnom Penh have been resumed after a 50-year suspension.
He said though Cambodians and Indonesians do not require visas to travel to each other’s country, linking the countries with a direct flight will increase the number of tourists between the two.
“I am confident that the direct flights between the two countries will help boost trade, tourism, investment and mutual cultural exchanges, as well as closer relations between the two peoples,” he said.
Last year, Cambodia received 55,753 Indonesian tourists – up 11.8 per cent from 2017. In the first four months of this year, there were 21,243 Indonesian visitors – up 16.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, Monirath said.
Pak Heriyanto, the vice-president of Corporate Strategy at PT Citilink Indonesia, said the company is pleased to launch the flight.
“We hope that this new direct flight will not only connect Southeast Asian countries but also [boost the] potential in many other areas such as culture, economy, politics and society,” he said.
Data from the Ministry of Tourism showed that last year, Cambodia received more than 6.2 million international tourists – up 10.7 per cent from 2017. Revenue earned was more than $4.3 billion.
This year, Cambodia expects to receive about 6.7 million international tourists, with over seven million visitors by next year, and 15 million by 2030.