A Change of Guard

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Monday, 30 April 2012

Vietnam visitors drive tourism stats

By Rann Reuy 
Monday, 30 April 2012 
Phnom Penh Post 

International tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased nearly 28 per cent during the first quarter of the year compared with the corresponding period of 2011, Ministry of Tourism data shows.

Tourists walks through Angkor Wat earlier this year. Photo by Rann Reuy
The country drew more than 995,000 tourists from abroad during the three-month period, up from 778,467 a year earlier, according to figures obtained by the Post.

Leading the industry in numbers were almost 179,000 Vietnamese tourists, or 18 per cent of the market.

Officials attributed continued Vietnamese dominance in Cambodia’s tourism market to proximity, while expressing a hope Chinese visitors would acccount for a greater share.

“In recent times, we see the Vietnamese at the top of the market because this nation is close to us and they can access Cambodia [by boat, plane or land],” ministry general director Tith Chantha said yesterday.

“In the future, we hope that Chinese tourists will hold the record.”

Government officials said last week Cambodia hoped to attract a million Chinese tourists by 2020.

About 250,000 visited last year.

Tourism officials told the Post this month a recent bilateral trade agreement between China and Cambodia could have a significant impact on the volume of Chinese tourists entering the country.

Doubling the bilateral trade to $5 billion a year – an agreement made during a recent visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao – could lead to more Cambodia tourism marketing in China, the Post reported.

More than 151,000 Korean tourists, or 15 per cent of the market, visited Cambodia from January to March. Chinese, Japanese, Russian and UK tourists followed in market share.

About 50 per cent of tourists flew into the country, but arrivals by land and sea grew by 38 per cent. Only four per cent of tourists arrived on boats, data shows.

Data for increases in tourism revenue is not available, but Cambodian Association of Travel Agents president Ang Kim Eang said growth was comparable to the jump in visitors.

A leakage in tourism revenue to other countries was worrying, Ang Kim Eang said.

Many tourism products such as souvenirs were imported from other countries and hotel investment was inadequate, he said.

“Khmer hotel investors don’t buy international brand names. This doesn’t help advertise our hotels, and guests don’t come to stay.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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