FOREIGN tourist arrivals to Cambodia grew 15 percent in the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period of last year.
Tourism Ministry Director General Tith Chan Tha said the industry was returning to heights experienced before the financial crisis, as ministry statistics showed 1,630,068 tourists visited Cambodia from January to August 2010, from 1,422,003 for the same period of last year.
“Political stability and a record of keeping tourists safe contributed to the growth,” he said.The increase was not due to improvements in the domestic economy, but rather through efforts of government ministries to promote Cambodia to global travellers, he said.
But Bretton Sciaroni, senior partner at law firm Sciaroni and Associates, said last week that although tourist numbers were recovering, many were spending less money than in previous years.
“The amount of money Cambodia is receiving from tourists is less than before [the global financial crisis],” he during a speech made at a IT and finance conference in Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich. Tourists from Asia-Pacific constituted 60 percent of arrivals, while about 20 percent were from the EU, and another 20 percent came from the rest of the world, according to the ministry’s latest data.
Vietnam was the largest source for Cambodia’s tourists during the period. It was followed by South Korea, China, Japan, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Australia and Thailand.
However, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said yesterday that tourists were still spending significant amounts of money in Cambodia, regardless as to their nation of origin.
Tith Chan Tha also pointed to eased border restrictions and further visa exemptions as a factor in boosting intra-ASEAN tourism – especially for tourists arriving to Cambodia from Vietnam.