Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Q1 int’l tourists rise 125% as Kingdom reopens

Q1 int’l tourists rise 125% as Kingdom reopens

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The number of international visitors to Cambodia hit 159,546 in the first quarter of this year. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Q1 int’l tourists rise 125% as Kingdom reopens

The number of international visitors to Cambodia hit 159,546 in the first quarter of this year, marking a 125.03 per cent increase from 70,901 on a yearly basis, of which 54.51 per cent entered the Kingdom by air, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The increase comes as the country opens up and dials back Covid-19-related restrictions, and observers are optimistic that tourism gains will extend into the rest of this year, on the back of the recent removal of rapid and PCR coronavirus tests for fully-vaccinated arrivals.

The ministry reported that in the January-March period, 86,976 visitors entered Cambodia through its three international airports, up by 159.4 per cent year-on-year, and 72,570 arrived either overland or via waterways, up by 94.2 per cent on a yearly basis.

Vietnam emerged as the top source of tourists at 46,303, up by 1,188.9 per cent, followed by Thailand (39,615; up 12.2 per cent) and China – the only major market to register a year-on-year drop, at 59.1 per cent to 9,753, the ministry said.

Next up were the US (8,820; up 876.7 per cent) and Indonesia (8,578; up 268 per cent), with significant numbers arriving from France, South Korea, Malaysia, and the UK.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin suggested that the general uptrend in international tourism metrics was primarily buoyed by the encouraging rise in Covid-19 vaccination rates and accompanying low transmission rates, which she said have convinced a fair share of foreign visitors and investors to make a trip to the Kingdom this year.

As of April 29, over 14.93 million people – aged 3 and up – had received at least a first Covid-19 dose, representing 93.33 per cent of the estimated 16 million population, according to the Ministry of Health.

Sivlin predicted that the number of international visitors would stick on a positive growth trajectory in the months to come. “Since the end of 2021, not only have international visitors gradually returned, but airlines that had temporarily ceased operations are also asking to resume flights,” she told The Post.

Cambodia booked just $184 million in international tourism revenue last year, marking an 82 per cent nosedive from $1.023 billion in 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed travel throughout the world.

Last year’s figure was down by more than 96 per cent from the all-time peak of $4.919 billion in 2019, which had risen by 12.4 per cent over 2018, according to tourism ministry.

The number of international tourists visiting the Kingdom also plummeted from 1,306,143 in 2020 to a mere 196,495 in 2021, the latter of which represents a nearly 97.03 per cent drop from the record 6,610,592 logged in 2019, ministry figures show.

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