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Senator’s trip lifts hopes for Siem Reap-Danang flights

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Senator Mean Sam An (left) presents a gift to senior Danang municipal official Luong Nguyen Minh Triet. VNA

Senator’s trip lifts hopes for Siem Reap-Danang flights

The private sector is elated over a meeting between a Cambodian senator and senior Danang municipal official that underscored the value of resuming direct commercial flights between the central Vietnamese city and the Kingdom’s Siem Reap town, home of the world-famous Angkor Wat temple, after more than two years of Covid-19 induced suspension.

Vietnamese state media reported that Luong Nguyen Minh Triet, standing vice-secretary of the Danang municipal Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Committee, on December 26 received Mean Sam An, chairwoman of the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group as well as the Senate’s Eighth Commission, which deals with healthcare; labour and vocational training; social, veterans’ and women’s affairs; and youth rehabilitation.

Triet shared with Sam An that the Siem Reap-Danang routes had provided a boost to collaboration between the Vietnamese city and Cambodian partners in a range of areas, as well as that Danang had resumed seven international flights to date, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

In response, Sam An commented that the resumption of flights between the two popular trip options would address pent-up travel demand, and stimulate development of both countries’ tourism industries now that the bulk of Covid-related restrictions have been lifted.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan welcomed the return of Siem Reap-Danang flights, remarking that tourist flows between the two countries is on the rise, following moves on either side to allow for the full resumption of socio-economic activity.

“[Thus] it’ll be marvellous to have more flights between the two countries as … tourists from Vietnam increase,” he said. “Danang City, as a major tourist destinations, would be able to welcome our people as well as other foreign travellers – there will be demand for direct flights between it and Siem Reap province.”

The Ministry of Tourism on October 31 highlighted two major initiatives to focus on in tandem with “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” to accelerate international tourism growth, and called on relevant parties to be actively involved and pursue options to raise the allure of the Kingdom.

These are: to champion local travel destinations at 10 international events set to be held in India, China, Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, Europe, or elsewhere; and drive forward the so-called “Cambodia as Sports Tourism Destination” campaign as the host of the 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and ASEAN Para Games, the ministry said in a notice.

And in early September, the ministry unveiled an eight-pronged strategy aimed at raising the full-year numbers of international visitors to Cambodia and domestic trips nationwide to at least 7.5 million and 16 million by 2028, respectively.

Cambodia welcomed nearly 1.576 million international visitors in the first 10 months of this year – up 991.13 per cent year-on-year but still down 70.24 per cent over the same period in the record-breaking year of 2019 – of which 1.199 million or 76.06 per cent declared “holiday” as their purpose of visit, 321,180 or 20.38 per cent marked “business”, while 56,135 or 3.56 per cent indicated other motives, according to the ministry.

Vietnam accounted for 341,953 or 21.70 per cent (251,923 holiday; 89,596 business; 434 other), down 52.49 per cent from the corresponding 2019 period.

Of note, if the number of international visitors for each remaining month this year is equal to or greater than the October figure, the full-year total would pass 2.196 million, or 9.82 per cent more than the two-million upper bound of the estimated range offered by the ministry in September. This would also be a more than 11-fold increase from the 2021 total of 196,495.

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