In the first nine months of 2023, Cambodia welcomed over 3.9 million foreign visitors, marking an increase of over 200% compared to the same period in 2022, with nearly 70% originating from the three bordering countries and China, as reported by the Ministry of Tourism.

From January to September 2023, the country saw 3,926,882 foreign visitors, a significant 210.2% increase from 1,265,772 in the corresponding period of 2022. Of these, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Laos made up 2,726,787, representing 69.44% of the total number of international guests.

According to the report, Thailand was the largest contributor of foreign travellers with 1,339,540, accounting for 34.1% of the total and marking an increase of 189.5%.

Vietnam followed with 730,075, representing 18.6% of the total and a 156% increase.

Visitors from China numbered 405,514, or 10.3%, soaring by 549.6%, while Laotian tourists increased by 548.9% to 251,658, making up 6.4% of the total.

Travellers from other countries also rose sharply: the US saw 129,068 (up 159.2%), South Korea sent 125,732 (up by 245.4%) and Indonesia contributed 93,166 (up 86.7%).

France accounted for 73,632, a 136.3% increase, while Russia showed a substantial uptick of 2,361.1% with 68,469. The UK closely followed with 68,229 people, marking a 203.6% increase.

Khieu Thy, president of the Khmer Angkor Tourist Guide Association (KATGA), told The Post on November 5 that during the recovery phase, the majority of people were from neighbouring countries. He said China held the record for the highest number of guests prior to the 2020 Covid-19 crisis.

He noted that in the current climate of tentative political and global economic growth, attracting visitors from further afield remains challenging.

“The government’s policy to bolster and broaden ties with other nations, particularly with neighbouring countries and China, plays an important role in drawing more people and investors to the country,” he stated.

“Enhancing customer confidence in safety and creating new tourism offerings are also key to attracting foreigners,” he added.

He said that the recent spike in foreign arrivals could be attributed to the student holiday period and colder seasons in various countries, prompting holidaymakers to seek out destinations with more favorable climates.

In an effort to boost Cambodia’s appeal, the government, alongside the private sector, has prioritized the development of infrastructure, including the construction of roads and airports and the revision of legal frameworks.

Hor Sarun, secretary of state at the ministry, expressed optimism that the county would return to pre-Covid levels at the opening ceremony of the “Good Hospitality, Safe Tourism” workshop on August 14 in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town.

He stated that the country is optimistic about reclaiming its pre-pandemic influx of foreigners, anticipating the arrival of approximately 7 million by the end of 2025 or early 2026.

According to the ministry, the country recorded its highest number of international guests in 2019 at 6,610,592, marking a 6.6% increase from the previous year. Of these, 1,608,625 came from the three bordering nations, representing 24.33% of the total, while those from China comprised 35.7% with 2,361,849.

The Kingdom welcomed close to 2.28 million international visitors in 2022, an impressive increase of 1,059% over 2021. Tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and China constituted 1,516,855 of that total, making up 66.62% of all foreign travellers for that year, as per the ministry.