A Change of Guard

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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Ministry unfazed by dip in tourism

By Eath Daravuth
The Mekong Times

The Ministry of Tourism said yesterday that, despite a slight decline in tourism arrivals over the last few weeks due to seasonal rains and a border conflict with Thailand, it still expects arrivals to rise by a healthy 15 percent this year.
“Due to the situation at Preah Vihear, the number of tourists entering from Thailand – especially at the border point of Poipet – is fluctuating,” said Tourism Minister Thong Khon. “However, we still have many overland arrivals from Vietnam and Laos, and air arrivals are consistent.”
Tourist numbers generally decline during the nation’s July to August rainy season, he said, adding that he did not believe the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing would negatively impact on figures, as most tourists to Cambodia are interested in culture rather than sports.
Im Thon, chief of administration at the Poipet border gate, has seen a 20-30 percent drop in Thai tourists since the Preah Vihear dispute began in mid-July, though he added that most Thai tourists are only there to gamble at the town’s casinos and that Western tourists arrivals are stable.
Khieu Thy, president of a tour guide’s association in Siem Reap province, noted that tourists in Siem Reap province have decreased since last year, adding that the decline is more evident among Western rather than Asian tourists.
He said his fellow guides have all noticed the decline, theorizing that Western tourists are going to the Olympic Games.
In 2007 Cambodia welcomed 2.1 million tourists generating around US$1 billion in revenues but this year has predicted over 2.5 million.

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