Cambodia expects more foreign tourists this year; Chinese visitors leading the way

Image from Khmer Times

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (Xinhua): A Cambodian senior tourism official said the South-East Asian nation is keen to see more international tourists, especially Chinese ones, stressing that their presence is vital to revitalising the post-pandemic tourism industry.

Tang Sochetkresna, director of Preah Sihanouk Provincial Department of Tourism, hopes that more foreign tourists will visit the coastal province of Preah Sihanouk, which is one of the top priority tourist destinations in the kingdom.

"I'd like to appeal to the governments of China as well as countries in Europe and ASEAN to encourage airline companies to resume direct flights to Cambodia after their suspension during the pandemic era," he told Xinhua on Sunday.

Sochetkresna said the kingdom is also eager to see the return of Chinese investors to Preah Sihanouk province.

He said Preah Sihanouk has good physical infrastructure, potential natural resources, an international seaport and an expressway linking with the capital Phnom Penh.

"More importantly, we have beautiful bays and islands, with standardized tourism services for international tourists," he said.

As Cambodia kicked off its four-day traditional New Year on Saturday, Sochetkresna said Preah Sihanouk has organized a variety of celebratory activities such as a Songkran festival, a concert, a trade exhibition, and dancing at the vicinities of pagodas, bays and other tourist resorts.

"During the New Year holiday, we have also prepared to welcome international tourists to Preah Sihanouk by air, greeting them with traditional Trot dance and traditional Chhay Yam dance, or drum dance, at the Sihanouk International Airport," he said.

Seong Chantha, a 35-year-old seller of grilled squid along a bay in Preah Sihanouk province, said tourists are the main source of income for her and other vendors in this coastal province.

"We are keen to see more tourists because they will bring us more income. More tourists will lead to better sales," she told Xinhua on Sunday.

"If more Chinese people come, a lot of jobs will be created for our Cambodian people," she added.

Chantha said currently, security and safety in Preah Sihanouk province are good.

Uy Meyta, a 19-year-old local tourist to Preah Sihanouk province, said Preah Sihanouk has beautiful bays, which are very attractive to both national and international tourists.

"The environment is clean, with no garbage, and food prices are competitive," she told Xinhua. "We want to see more tourists, and I want to tell them that Cambodia has beautiful bays."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet said last month that the country recorded 5.45 million international tourist arrivals in 2023, generating a gross revenue of 3.08 billion U.S. dollars.

"We hope that the number of international tourists to Cambodia will surpass the pre-pandemic level by 2025," he said.

In the pre-pandemic era, the kingdom registered 6.6 million international tourists in 2019, earning 4.92 billion dollars in revenue, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism is one of the four pillars supporting Cambodia's economy.

The kingdom is renowned for the Angkor Archaeological Park in northwest Siem Reap province. Besides, it has a 450-km pristine coastline stretching across four southwestern provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong. - Xinhua

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