DIRECT flights should be established to facilitate tourists travelling between Siem Reap and Da Lat, in the southern part of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has said.
Urging Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation to investigate the issue, he said flights between the tourism hubs could lure an additional half a million tourists per year.
He estimated that 300,000 could arrive in Siem Reap from Da Lat, with 200,000 travelling the other way each year.
Thong Khon made the comments after meeting with a delegation of high-ranking officials from Vietnam.
“We will help facilitate the flights, and open representative offices in the respective provinces to ensure the process of exchanging tourists can be successfully carried out,” added the Tourism Minister.
The chairman of the people’s committee of Lam Dong province, the home of Da Lat, said Vietnam wished to have direct flights between Da Lat and the Kingdom in the near future.
“Under an exchange agreement the two countries will have a chance to increase visitors, which would generate a lot of income for [the] national economy,” Huynh Duchoa said Monday after meeting Thong Khon.
Located approximately 300 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City, Lam Dong province was visited by approximately 2.6 million tourists last year, of which 15 percent were foreign.
It is known as one of Vietnam’s most productive agircultural provinces and currently has no direct air link with Cambodia.
Cambodia’s Siem Reap province is located 362 kilometres from Phnom Penh, and is visited by approximately 2 million tourists per year, of which half are from abroad, statistics show.
Of the 2.16 million foreign tourists who visited Cambodia in 2009, an estimated 316,202 visitors were Vietnamese.
During the Mekong Tourism Forum in Siem Reap last May, Ministry of Tourism officials highlighted Vietnam as a potential source of more flights to the Kingdom following Thailand’s recent political unrest.
“Before, Bangkok was the main gateway for tourists from Europe and from America.
“But because it has big problems, maybe tourists will use other gateways such as Vietnam or Kuala Lumpur or Singapore,” Ministry of Tourism Secretary of State Kousom Saroeuth said previously.