Foreign visitors to Cambodia's famed Angkor down 78% in 10 months

PHNOM PENH, Nov 2 (Xinhua): Cambodia's famed Angkor Archeological Park received 398,485 international visitors during the first 10 months of 2020, down 78 per cent over the same period last year, said a press statement released to media on Monday.

The ancient park earned US$18.55 million in revenue from ticket sales during the January-October period this year, also down 77 per cent year-on-year, said the state-owned Angkor Enterprise's statement.

In October alone, the site received 2,244 foreigners earning US$93,598, down 98.4 per cent and 98.5 per cent, respectively compared to the same month last year, it said.

The sharp decline was due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic that has forced the South-East Asian nation to impose entry restrictions for all foreign travelers since March.

Ministry of Tourism's secretary of state and spokesman Top Sopheak said prior to the Covid-19, the site attracted around 9,000 foreign tourists a day, but currently, it averagely receives only 70 a day and those are foreigners living and working in Cambodia.

"We expect that the number of international visitors to the Angkor Archeological Park will start to rebound gradually in the first quarter of 2021 if COovid-19 vaccines are available," he told Xinhua.

He said China will undoubtedly remain the largest source of tourists to Cambodia during the post-Covid-19 era.

"China is a huge source market not only for Cambodia's tourism, but also for the region's," he said. "We believe that more Chinese tourists will come to Cambodia after the Covid-19 because of our close relationship."

Situated in northwest Siem Reap province, the Angkor Archeological Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1992, is the kingdom's most popular tourist destination.

Meanwhile, Cambodia exported 536,305 metric tons of milled rice in the first 10 months of 2020, up 17 per cent over the same period last year, Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon told Xinhua on Monday.

China remained the top buyer, he said, adding that the kingdom shipped 194,451 tons of milled rice to China during the January-October period this year, up 5 percent over the same period last year, and China accounted for 36 percent of the country's total rice export.

The country also exported 174,391 tons to the European market during the period, up 12 percent, he said, adding that European market represented 32.5 percent of the kingdom's total rice export.

"Overall, our rice exports to all destinations during the first 10 months of this year were on the rise," the minister said, adding that the Southeast Asian nation has sold rice to 60 countries and regions.

Lun Yeng, secretary general of the Cambodia Rice Federation, told Xinhua that China is a huge market for Cambodian rice and the kingdom is expected to export around 250,000 tons to China by the end of this year.

Ngin Chhay, director general of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, said recently that the Covid-19 pandemic had driven high demand for Cambodian rice, projecting that the country's rice export to the international market is expected to reach 800,000 tons in 2020. - Xinhua
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