Siem Reap province is expected to have welcomed more than 2.27 million travellers by end-2022, up 326 per cent year-on-year, with international visitors topping 0.23 million, according to Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on December 1.
The minister suggested that the full-year figure would be underpinned by travel to the culturally-rich province in the November-December period, reporting that the total reached nearly 1.793 million as of October 31, of which international arrivals accounted for 169,349 or 9.45 per cent.
He ascribed the continuing uptrend in travellers to Siem Reap to effective Covid-19 management and relatively early concrete moves towards the full resumption of socio-economic activity, since November 2021.
Similarly, Angkor Tour Guide Association president Khieu Thy confirmed to The Post on December 4 that national and international tourists to the northern province have increased steadily since the government began its “reopening” initiatives, which he said have translated into revenues for the industry.
Although most pre-Covid international visitors to Siem Reap had been Chinese, he said, regional countries, India and Europe now comprise the majority.
Thy believes the ministry’s visitor targets can be met, at least the figure for domestic travellers, given the progressive gains seen as of late.
On the other hand, Thy requests the government’s continued support for those tourism-related businesses that are especially reliant on international tourism, at least until enough foreign travellers return to ensure their sustainability and proper operation.
He recommended lower licence renewal prices for tour guides until 2025, claiming that many do not have a steady flow of customers.
Thy said that despite now being a “high season”, just around two-fifths of the province’s tour guides are able to secure jobs at a sufficiently fast rate – which he put at the equivalent of between seven and 10 days a month – with many failing to have even one customer on any given month.
Things could get even worse during the February-March “low season”, he indicated.
Siem Reap provincial Department of Tourism director Ngov Sengkak claimed that, as of late, the province on a typical day receives 1,300-1,400 international visitors on 15-16 flights, and an additional 600-700 arriving overland.
However, according to Thy, “for the Siem Reap tourism sector to be able to stand as strongly as it had before the advent of Covid-19, there must be at least 30 flights per day”.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin said the uptrends in regional tourists to the Kingdom have been especially pronounced, which she hailed as a good sign for the 2022-2023 post-Covid recovery phase and predicted would gain more traction as the year comes to an end.
“We expect that in the remaining period of 2022, the number of international tourists visiting Cambodia will keep increasing, especially those from neighbouring countries,” she said, stressing that many of the Kingdom’s leisure travel spots are set up with attractive eco-friendly, quality, service and pricing considerations.
Ministry statistics show that, in the first 10 months of 2022, Cambodia welcomed nearly 1.576 million international visitors, up 991.13 per cent year-on-year but still down 70.24 per cent compared to the same period in the record-breaking year of 2019.
Of the January-October arrivals, 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.
In the same period, holidaymakers made 10.856 million domestic trips, up 233.99 per cent year-on-year but down 19.99 per cent versus the same time in 2019.