Thai Airways has commenced a new route – from Bangkok to the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI) – aiming to capitalise on the increasing number of passengers visiting the world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Archaeological Park. 

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, a spokesperson for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said the airline landed at SIA on December 1 with 150 passengers on board. 

“This is the first time that Thai Airways has initiated a flight between Bangkok and Siem Reap province, despite having operated in the region for decades with flights only between Bangkok and Phnom Penh,” he said.

The airline currently operates one daily flight between the Thai capital and Siem Reap, and two flights daily between the countries’ respective capitals.

Vutha noted the increasing number of tourists travelling from Thailand to Cambodia, highlighting that several airlines are now operating on these routes due to high passenger demand. 

Thourn Sinan, president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia Chapter, said there is a significant influx of foreign tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, with the number of Chinese and European tourists also on the rise. 

“The decision by [Thai Airways] to open a new route to Siem Reap is due to the sharp increase in demand from passengers seeking direct flights to the province. We are witnessing a large number of tourists from the region visiting Angkor Wat and other temples in the provinces,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia welcomed over 4.4 million foreign guests in the first 10 months of 2023, a substantial increase compared to the same period the previous year. 

Travellers from the three neighbouring ASEAN member states topped the list of arrivals. 

Ministry data released last weekend shows that from January to October 2023, Cambodia saw more than 4.4 million foreign visitors, a 179.7% increase from the same period in 2022. 

Of these, 63.1% were from three major countries: Thailand (with 1 million visitors, 34.1% of total foreigner tourists, a 154.3% increase), Vietnam (825,970 visitors, 18.7%, a 141.5% increase) and China (453,562 visitors, 10.3%, a 497.5% increase).

In 2019, Cambodia experienced its highest influx of international guests, with over 6.6 million, a 6.6% increase from 2018. Visitors from the three border countries totalled 1,608,625, accounting for 24.33% of the total while visitors from China comprised 2,361,849, or 35.7%.

In 2022, Cambodia received nearly 2.28 million international travellers, marking a 1,059% post-pandemic increase from the previous year. Visitors from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and China totalled 1,516,855 in 2022, accounting for 66.62% of all foreign tourists, as per the ministry.