Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Siem Reap feels pinch of tourism downturn

Siem Reap feels pinch of tourism downturn

Siem Reap feels pinch of tourism downturn

Foreign tourist arrivals in Siem Reap fell 11.2 per cent during the first nine months of the year compared to the same period one year earlier, as the Kingdom’s top tourist gateway sees its most significant slowdown in visitor arrivals in decades, new government data shows.

Chheuy Chhorn, deputy director of Siem Reap’s tourist department, said just under 1.55 million tourists visited Siem Reap province in the first nine months of the year, compared to 1.74 million during the same period in 2014.

He attributed the decrease to external factors, such as bombings in Bangkok in August and the crash of an AirAsia flight last December, which resulted in cancelled travel plans. Many travelers also nixed vacation plans following the MERS outbreak in South Korea earlier this year.

“Tourists are scared to travel,” Chhorn said, “Our tourism is reliant on neighbouring countries, so any troubles in these countries impacts tourism in Siem Reap.”

He explained that most tourists pass through other Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand or Vietnam, on their way to Cambodia. In many cases, a visit to Angkor Wat near Siem Reap is tacked on to the travel itineraries of tourists touring other countries in the region.

Siem Reap has achieved an average of 19.2 per cent annual growth in tourist arrivals since 2009, when arrivals grew only 7 per cent due to the global financial crisis.

Last year, more than 2.3 million foreign tourists visited the city, led by Vietnamese, Chinese, Laotian and South Korean nationals.

Khiev Thy, president of the Angkor Tour Guide Association in Siem Reap, said this year’s declining numbers would have a far-reaching impact on the local economy.

“This is the first time that tourist numbers in Siem Reap have gone down,” he said.

“The high season has already started but the number of tourists visiting has not increased.”

He expressed concern about the impact on the city’s tourism-based economy, as well as government revenue.

Tourism directly contributed 13.5 per cent of Cambodia’s GDP in 2014 and supports nearly 1 million jobs, according to the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,