Tourism sector worth $3.6 billion in 2017

Cambodia’s tourism sector earned $3.63 billion in revenue last year, an increase of 13.3 percent, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism.

Last year, international travellers visiting the kingdom spent 5.6 million, 11.8 percent more than in 2016, according to Kong Sophearak, director of the statistics department at the Ministry of Tourism.

He attributed the increase in tourist numbers and revenue to the increasing number of air connections liking Cambodia to the region, particularly China.

China tops the list for most travellers by nationality, with 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting the kingdom in 2017. It was followed by Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Korea.

“The increase in the number of Chinese visitors was possible thanks to efforts to facilitate travel to the kingdom, and to the growing number of airlines operating international flights to Cambodia,” Mr Sophearak said.

Cambodia now expects to welcome at least 6 million international tourists in 2018, 7 million by 2020, and 10 million by 2025, according to Mr Sophearak.

Speaking during a press conference in the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh last week, Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo said Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has enacted the “right policies”, resulting in a significant hike in the number of Chinese visitors to the kingdom.

He said Cambodia’s “China ready” strategy has been very successful in luring visitors, and mentioned concrete achievements like the increase in Chinese-speaking tour guides.

Luu Meng, co-chair of the government-private sector tourism working group, told Khmer Times that stakeholders in the sector should now focus on the establishment of more tourism products to broaden Cambodia’s offer to visitors.

“Now we have increased the number of flights to the kingdom, but there is still a lot of work left to do to increase the amount of time that tourists spend in the kingdom. To do this, we need to come up with new tourism products, such as new, enticing destinations,” Mr Meng said.