Cambodians arrival to Malaysia saw a spike of 112 percent in the first eight months of this year, the highest growth rate recorded among 46 countries visiting the Southeast Asian nation.
According to Tourism Malaysia statistics, from January to August, 56,290 Cambodians visited Malaysia, compared to only 26,526 visitors over the same period under review.
“The driving factors (for the rise) are that Cambodia and Malaysia (agents) have been working together side by side promoting newer destinations in Malaysia."
“In addition to newer destinations, Malaysia is also a known destination for shopping, honeymoon, backpacking, culinary; and also many choices and affordable airlines serve the route to Malaysia,” Chhay Sivlin, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents told The Post on Wednesday.
Several push and pull factors, at both ends, are driving the tourism growth figures between both nations.
Cambodian outbound tourism is gradually rising. For instance, about 1.75 million Cambodians travelled abroad in 2017, compared to 1.43 million recorded a year before, said the Ministry of Tourism.
The state-run news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse had earlier reported that outbound tourism rose 20 percent in 2016 and Cambodians spent about $600 million while they were abroad in the same year.
Coupled with a stable economy and rising standard of living, more Cambodians are now travelling to neighbouring countries, and even beyond, for vacations.
Improved connectivity between ASEAN capitals and as budget carriers compete to offer affordable attractive travel packages and cheaper tickets, have further fuelled the outbound traffic.
“We have witnessed for both long-haul outbound travel and short-haul travel a steady growth. With the increase in middle class families and more choices of airlines available in a very affordable price, has enabled and encouraged new generation of Cambodian people to travel and explore more, both within ASEAN and further to Europe.
“Yes indeed, (improved connectivity ) has greatly contributed to the growth factor of Cambodian tourists to Malaysia, as it saves a lot of time for the travellers to be directly connected to the destinations they choose to visit,” said Chhay.
She said Cambodia-Malaysia short-haul sector is tapping students, business people and religious travellers, as a transit hub for their onward journey.
“We have seen a lot of investments coming into Cambodia and trading between the two countries,” she added.
Cambodian travel trends are also changing fast, with far-reaching influence of the social media among the millennial travellers.
“In Cambodia, both trend are highly considered. For young travellers there are growing demand for tours where they have more flexibility with their itinerary as they would love to explore more into the country they visit.
However, for senior travellers, (prefer ) a more relaxed (holiday) and prefer to visit main attraction (sites) only,” she said.
On the other hand, Malaysia continues to position itself as an exciting tourist destination, promoting diverse tourist attractions, affordable travel for all segments of tourists and boasts modern infrastructure.
According to Tourism Malaysia, about 17 million tourists visited the country in the first eight months of this year. Last year, Malaysia received about 25 million foreign tourists and earned $19 billion in revenue.
The government has set a target to attract 36 million tourists by 2020.