During his February 27 official trip to Malaysia, Prime Minister Hun Manet proposed that Malaysia examine the possibility of re-opening direct flights to the Kingdom, specifically suggesting that a route from Kuala Lumpur Airport to Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SAI) be opened. 

Jean François Tan, minister delegate attached to the prime minister for foreign affairs, held a press conference on the night of February 27, following the return of Manet and his delegation.

He described the untapped potential of tourism between the two nations, and added that the two sides had agreed to encourage the tourism authorities of both nations to seek out further opportunities for cooperation.

“The Cambodian side proposed a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur Airport to SAI,” he added. 

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said on February 28 that according to a 2023 report, tourists from Malaysia ranked 10th in terms of international arrivals to Cambodia, with almost 90,000 visiting last year.

“This was a remarkable increase, as in 2020 we saw just over 50,000 Malaysians touch down in the Kingdom. The ministry is seeking increased cooperation with the Malaysian side,” he added.

Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, viewed the proposal as excellent, noting that Malaysia is currently a point of transit for many tourists on their way to Cambodia. 

“The number of Malaysian tourists to the Kingdom is still small, but 2023 saw an increase, and they ranked in the 10th-highest international arrivals. In the past, there were far fewer Malaysian tourists visiting Cambodia, possibly because the traditional accommodation and food of the two of the two countries are less compatible,” he said.

“In the past, most Malaysian arrivals travelled overland from Thailand. Furthermore, Kuala Lumpur is an excellent point for tourists from Europe and the US to enter Cambodia,” he added.

The tourism ministry reported that over the past year the top 10 countries of origin for international arrivals were Thailand, with 1.8 million, followed by Vietnam with over one million, China with over 540,000 and Laos with over 370,000. 

The US was fifth, with over 180,000, followed by South Korea with over 170,000, Indonesia with over 120,000, France with over 100,000, The UK with more than 90,000, and Malaysia.