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Southeast Asia visitors backing Cambodian tourism industry

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Tourists visit Angkor Wat temple in January. Hong Menea

Southeast Asia visitors backing Cambodian tourism industry

Cambodia welcomed 217,038 visitors from Southeast Asia from January to May of 2022, signifying a 282 per cent jump year-on-year, the Ministry of Tourism said, while noting that nearly 50 per cent of the figure arrived from Vietnam.

Accordingly, the figures – which cover the ASEAN countries plus East Timor – showed that Thais followed Vietnamese (106,628) with 68,887 people. Indonesian (16,861) and Malaysians (10,830) came in at the third and fourth places, respectively.

Rounding out the list of source markets for travellers to Cambodia were Singapore (5,737), the Philippines (5,260), Myanmar (1,655), Laos (1,010), Brunei (97) and East Timor (73).

Speaking to The Post on July 6, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said that under the present circumstances, “only” Southeast Asian visitors can play an important role to prop up the tourism sector in the region, including Cambodia.

However, he said, although the growth rate of regional visitors to Cambodia has increased significantly, this number is “still very low” compared to its neighbours, such as Thailand and Vietnam.

“If Cambodia has a policy to attract and encourage foreign tourists, the number of local tourists visiting Cambodia will rise to another level,” Sinan said.

Looking at the optimism of regional tourists, Sinan said the number of ASEAN tourists will continue to outpace visitors from other countries for some time.

He expected this as the Russia-Ukraine conflict formed an obstacle for visitors from countries or remote areas to enter into Cambodia.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the increased international arrivals symbolised the beginning of a resumption in tourism to Cambodia.

At present, given the global Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, regional travel is considered the safest.

“Once the Covid-19 situation and the war eases, cross-border travels by global travellers will accelerate,” Vanak said, underscoring that tourism generates income for the national economy as well as create direct and indirect jobs.

In 2021, the Covid-19 crisis caused the foreign tourist numbers to Cambodia to fall sharply to 196,495 or an 80 per cent year-on-year plunge from 1.31 million people in 2020.

In 2019, Cambodia received an all-time record of more than 6.61 million foreign tourists, tourism ministry data showed.

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