Vietjet Air, Vietnam’s budget airline, is set to commence flights between Hanoi and Siem Reap province on December 15. The service aims to accommodate the surge in foreign tourists to Cambodia, home to the renowned UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat.

In addition to Siem Reap, the company is also introducing flights to Indonesia and China, aiming to take advantage of the peak travel season at year’s end, according to Vietnamese media.

The airline’s new route will feature seven weekly flights, directly linking Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) with Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI), which features access to one of Asia’s major tourist destinations.

The development aligns with Vietnam’s increasing tourist numbers, having hosted close to 10 million international guests in the first 10 months of the year, with an expectation to reach 13 million by year’s end.

The number of Cambodian travellers to Vietnam has grown exponentially, with the number of visitors in the first nine months of this year “267% higher than pre-pandemic levels”, according to industry sources.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter, said the airline recognised the potential for increased tourism during the high season, noting Angkor Wat as a perennial cultural attraction.

“The decision by the airline reflects the rising number of tourists from the region, including Vietnam. While we haven’t reached the peak numbers of 2019, the recent opening of [SAI] is a very positive sign. We’re hopeful that increased flight options will encourage more people to visit during the high season,” he explained.

Khieu Thy, president of the Khmer Angkor Tourist Guide Association, said on November 5 that while the current influx of individuals from regional neighbours and China has not matched the 2019 figures, it is nonetheless significant.

“Cambodia’s policy to enhance and broaden ties [with our neighbours] plays a crucial role in attracting tourists and investors to the country,” he said.

Data from the Ministry of Tourism shows that from January to September, Cambodia welcomed 3,926,882 international visitors, marking a 210.2% increase from the 1,265,772 recorded during the same period in 2022.

Thailand, Vietnam, China and Laos made up a total of 2,726,787 travellers, representing 69.44% of the total foreign count.

The report identifies Thailand as the leading source of foreign guests to Cambodia in the first three quarters, accounting for 1,339,540 or 34.1% of the total, marking a 189.5% increase. Vietnam was next with 730,075 visitors, representing 18.6% of the total, up by 156%; China contributed 405,514, 10.3% of the total, showing a rise of 549.6%; and Laos followed with 251,658, making up 6.4% of the total, a jump of 548.9%.

Next are the US with 129,068 visitors, a 3.6% share, up 159.2%; South Korea with 125,732 or 3.2%, up by 245.4%; Indonesia with 93,166 or 2.4%, rising by 86.7%; France with 73,632 or 1.9%, a 136.3% increase; Russia with 68,469 or 1.7%, an upsurge of 2,361%; and the UK with 68,229 or 1.7%, an increase of 203.6%.