The Ministry of Tourism signed a tourism development cooperation agreement with Vietnam Airlines in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, witnessed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, on a two-day visit to Cambodia.
Some travel agents believe such cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam will help the Kingdom attract more international tourists, and not only Vietnamese.
Vietnam Airlines is considering opening routes connecting tourist hotspots Halong Bay and Danang to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
“[It] is positive news for us. The airline hopes to connect new markets in Halong Bay and Danang with Cambodia. From these zones, we will not only receive a flow of Vietnamese tourists but also other international tourists,” she said.
Preparation for tourists
However, she said Cambodia needs to improve the quality of its hospitality, service, infrastructure and transport to be adequately prepared to welcome increased tourist numbers.
“We need to be ready and well prepared for the influx of more tourists. But more direct flights will be a boon for the sector, providing more choice and allowing more travellers to easily visit Cambodia, whether as a final destination or as part of a journey on to other countries,” she said.
There are currently 23 flights per day between Cambodia and Vietnam, operated by Vietnam Airlines, Cambodia Angkor Air, VietJet Air and Qatar Airways.
Sinan Thourn, chairman of the Cambodian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, also welcomed the agreement, saying the expansion of direct flights would benefit both countries.
“[Vietnam] will also benefit from us, as our people now like to explore the world and prefer better fares allowing them to reach their destination easily,” he said, adding that the Kingdom also needed to expand to other markets internationally to boost the tourism sector.
“There are still a lot of potential destinations in the world that we need to expand into – not just Vietnam and China,” he said.
According to Ministry of Tourism figures, more than 6.2 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia last year, an increase of 11.8 per cent on the previous year.
Of these, 800,128 came from Vietnam. While that figure was down 4.2 per cent on 2017, Vietnam remained the second most popular source of visitors after China.
During the visit of Trong, who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, on Monday and Tuesday, the two countries signed five agreements outlining their commitment to comprehensive cooperation.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Vietnam last year reached nearly $4.7 billion, up 23.8 per cent year-on-year.