Tourism arrivals in the Kingdom will more than double by 2020, according to plans by the Ministry of Tourism to attract seven million visitors to Cambodia annually.
In a reception for the launch of the Tourism Development Strategic Plan at Peace Palace last Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the ambitious target — more than double the current amount of annual tourism arrivals — would bring in $5 billion in revenues each year.
The Prime Minister told assembled guests that tourism “contributes an important part in creating job opportunities, increasing people’s income, boosting the economic growth and generating more income to the state.”
The Ministry anticipates the creation of between 500,000 and 700,000 new jobs in the sector over the next eight years, and has launched a feasibility study for a national tourism training institute to pre-empt an impending shortfall in tour guides and hospitality staff.
The strategic plan also highlights the need for massive infrastructure spending to accommodate its target for 2020 international tourist arrivals.
The ministry estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 hotel rooms will be required to meet demand, up from 20,000 now.
The Tourism Ministry has also called for a massive expansion of the country’s air services. In addition to calling for an international airport capable of servicing 10 million passengers a year and expediting plans for international flights to and from Preah Sihanouk Airport, the Ministry has asked for upgrades to airports in Preah Vihear, Battambang, Kratie and Ratannakiri to meet an anticipated growth in tourist numbers in these provinces.
Foreign tourism arrivals have risen dramatically over the past decade, in line with Cambodia’s economic growth. 2.8 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2011, up from 1.7 million visitors in 2006 and 600,000 in 2001.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon told guests at the launch the country expects 3.2 million tourists this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sean Gleeson at [email protected]