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International arrivals projected to double this year

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An airplane flies over Phnom Penh skyline on January 12. Hong Menea

International arrivals projected to double this year

A senior official from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) said that although January has seen no significant growth, he expects 2023 to see arrivals to the Kingdom double.

“In 2022, Cambodia saw slightly more than two million arrivals. We expect more than four million by the end of this year,” said Sin Chansereyvutha, SSCA spokesman and undersecretary of state.

The number of visitors to the Kingdom last year represented an increase of nearly 900 per cent on the previous year, but were still only a quarter of pre-pandemic numbers.

He said the number of flights jumped 260 per cent, with more than 30,000 in 2022.

An SSCA report said that prior to the January 8 reopening announcement of the Chinese government, there were 30 weekly flights between China and the Kingdom, 15 each way. Six Chinese airlines fly into Cambodia, from seven departure points.

According to the report, no Chinese operators have applied for specific additional landing permits yet, but rapid expansion by tour companies were expected to begin soon.

“Cambodia welcomes all Chinese flights. Now that China has lifted travel restrictions, we welcome the resumption of regular flights,” said Chansereyvutha.

“We have noted many requests for landing permit applications, but cannot count them until we formally receive the applications,” he added.

With the abolition of China’s zero-Covid policy, he expected a steady increase in flights to begin immediately after the upcoming Chinese New year.

In a mid-2022 meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on China to increase the number of flights between the two countries. Yi said China was prepared to consider it.

The Chinese government announced the end of quarantine requirements for new arrivals on January 8. The majority of international gates in China have been closed since early 2020.

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