Minister of Tourism Sok Soken emphasised that tourism acts as a bridge for cultural exchange, educational opportunities and fostering partnerships between the Cambodian and Japanese public and private sectors.

His remarks followed a meeting with a delegation from the Future Light Organisation on March 25, where discussions focused on potential cooperation and promoting Cambodian tourism in Japanese markets, as reported on the minister’s social media.

The discussions included briefings for the delegation and Japanese students on key strategic policies and recent developments in Cambodian tourism, with the intent to provide insights and information for study, promotion and sharing with Japanese travellers.

“Tourism serves as a bridge for cultural, educational and people-to-people exchange, enhancing partnerships between the Cambodian and Japanese sectors. I also urge the Japanese side to support the Cambodia Tourism Marketing and Promotion Board,” he added.

Soken also noted a mutual commitment between the ministries and the organisation aiming to attract more Japanese investment in Cambodia. 

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter, noted on March 26 that Japan is among the top markets for Cambodia. 

He highlighted that Japanese tourists typically visit Siem Reap province, though fewer venture to others.

Sinan observed that since the pandemic, the influx of Japanese tourists has decreased, with current numbers not as high as other foreign visitors. 

“To date, Japanese tourists haven’t returned in significant numbers. We should investigate why and what we’ve done thus far to attract the Japanese market. We hold big exhibitions twice a year, but other means are lacking. Unlike neighbouring countries, which promote more extensively in Japan, this is where we fall short,” he stated.

Prime Minister Hun Manet emphasised the important role of tourism in society and the national economy at the opening ceremony of the 8th River Festival in Siem Reap on March 16. 

He stated that tourism creates job opportunities, generates direct and indirect income for people, boosts exports, sustains economic growth, increases national revenue and plays a key role in cultural preservation and responsible environmental and natural resource management.

“Cambodia recorded over 5.45 million foreign tourists in 2023, and we hope that the number of foreign visitors to Cambodia will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2025,” he said.

“I remain optimistic that tourism continues to be a stimulant for the country’s economy, creating jobs and income. The sector contributes significantly to the first phase of the Pentagonal Strategy and is crucial in achieving upper-middle-income status by 2030 and high-income by 2050,” he added.

According to the ministry, Cambodia welcomed over 5.45 million foreign tourists in 2023, a 139.5 per cent increase compared to 2022. Of these, 1,866,231 travelled by air, 3,520,730 by land and 66,270 by sea. The number of Cambodians travelling abroad reached 1,819,504, marking a 152.3 per cent increase. 

The country saw 1,820,460 Thai tourists, 1,019,812 Vietnamese, 547,798 Chinese, 372,285 Lao, 184,870 Americans, 170,171 South Korean, 127,178 Indonesian, 106,625 French, 96,973 British and 87,825 Malaysian visitors.

Cambodia has restored over 80 per cent of its 2019 tourism levels, with the ministry vigorously working towards fully revitalising and promoting the sector.