The number of tourists to arrive in Cambodia in 2012 was at least 200,000 higher than expectations, possibly reaching 3.5 million, officials said yesterday.
Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, told the Post yesterday that in the first 11 months of 2012, Cambodia received 3.2 million tourists, and that he assumed for the whole of December, Cambodia would receive an additional 300,000 tourists. He said the number of international tourists arriving in Cambodia reached nearly 2.8 million in 2011, so 2012 saw an increase of more than 20 per cent.
He pointed out that there are some key factors leading to the increases in tourist arrivals, such as political stability and security, as well as being the host country of ASEAN summits and other related meetings.
He said other reasons included Cambodia establishing new tourism products such as developments in the coastal areas and inland, under the “Green and Clean” slogan. He added that Cambodian services had also improved.
The numbers would be sure to increase even more with direct flights between Cambodia and Indonesia and the long-awaited ACMECS’ single visa implementation for Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
“In 2012, if there are not obstacles, and if we solve some problems, we can achieve higher numbers,” he said, adding: “If we push it fast, the increase is faster than what we receive now.”
Sinan Thourn, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said he agreed that tourist arrivals increased in 2012. But he said at the same time some hurdles prevented a greater increase.
He said direct flights from Japan or India should be launched to push the increase in tourism, while direct flights from China are still limited.
“If Cambodia [launches more] direct flights with India, China and Japan, then we believe numbers will increase more,” he said. He added that “tourists in Asia Pacific are crucial for Cambodia because it is a huge market”.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said along with growth, there were some guests extending their stay in Cambodia as a result of the development of tourism products.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]