Tourism experts are optimistic that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia will increase gradually, particularly from 2024 onwards.

The optimism followed a recent meeting on the sidelines of the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in the Chinese capital Beijing, where Prime Minister Hun Manet and representatives of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) met with several private sector delegates to boost bilateral investment and tourism.

Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), told The Post on October 24 that Manet’s recent visit to China has renewed hope for the Kingdom’s tourism sector.

He noted that Chinese tourists were the largest group visiting Cambodia before the outbreak of Covid-19. Given China’s large population and its significant number of outbound tourists, he said Cambodia is eager to attract more visitors from the world’s second-largest economy.

He said that even though the Chinese government has allowed its citizens to travel abroad freely, Cambodia has not seen a significant influx of Chinese tourists. Currently, most of the Chinese individuals coming to Cambodia are businesspeople and technicians.

“I am optimistic that, little by little and especially from 2024, Cambodia will be able to attract more Chinese. This is contingent upon the easing of political conflicts and wars in some countries, especially if there’s no escalation of war in Middle Eastern countries,” he said.

Regarding infrastructure construction projects in the Kingdom, especially the recently launched pilot of the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI), he asserted that SAI will play a role in attracting both domestic and international tourists, especially the Chinese.

“With the capacity to accommodate more and larger aircrafts, we can certainly expect more direct connections between major cities in China and Cambodia,” he added.

Khieu Thy, president of the Khmer Angkor Tourist Guide Association (KATGA), said that while the current number of Chinese tourists is smaller compared to 2020, there has been a gradual increase. He noted that tour guides who pursued other occupations during 2020-2022 are gradually returning to the tourism sector.

He believes that the establishment of relations between government leaders is crucial for tourism, and that the private sector stands ready to seize the opportunity to welcome tourists of all nationalities.

He added that tourism not only plays a vital role in national economic growth but also in job creation and providing income for individuals and families.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, an undersecretary of state and spokesperson for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), stated on October 24 that the soft opening of SAI on October 16 has significantly impacted air travel. The daily number of air passengers carried by the same 17 airlines has more than doubled, rising from just over 1,000 at the old airport to 2,600.

He added that the increase in the number of holidaymakers starting from October could be attributed to the high season, noting that on average, each aircraft has been filled to about 80 per cent of its seating capacity.

According to, Cambodia secured two accolades at the “World Travel Awards 2023”, being recognized as both Asia’s leading cultural destination as well as Asia’s leading youth travel destination.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, from January to August of this year, the Kingdom welcomed a total of 3.5 million foreign visitors, an increase of 250.8% compared to the 998,272 arrivals recorded during the same period in 2022.

However, when compared to the same months in 2019, which set the record for the most foreign visitors just before the pandemic, it still shows a decline of 19.7%.

Among these foreign visitors, Thailand emerged as the top source with 1,186,999 tourists, followed by Vietnam (641,758), China (364,844) and Laos (212,984). Other notable countries of origin include the US, South Korea, Indonesia and France.