International Tourism Up But Fears for the Future
Cambodia earned around $4.91 billion, up 12.4 percent year-on-year from international tourism receipts last year, with 6.61 million international visitors, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Tourism.
Last year, the number of domestic tourists visiting Cambodia was up 11.3 million domestic tourists, up 2.3 percent year-on-year. The report said that the tourism sector contributed 12.1 percent directly to the gross domestic product (GDP). Tourism directly employed up to 630,000 people.
China was at the top of the international arrivals in Cambodia last year, up to 2.361million, followed by Vietnam 908,803, Thailand 363,951, Laos 363,951, South Korea 254,874, the US 248,863, Japan 207,636, Malaysia 203,008, France 164,117 and the UK 163,177.
The ministry said that it forecast the number of international tourists will reach 7 million in 2020. However, because of the outbreak of COVID-19, the prediction could change dramatically. At present, in Siem Reap alone, the number of international tourists decreased by about 60 percent so far this year.
Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism said at a meeting yesterday it wanted to boost the number of tourists visiting Siem Reap and other potential tourism destinations. The government as well as the ministry of tourism, is creating policies to boost the number of domestic tourists.
He said the ministry will host many events to attract more local tourists. He added that domestic tourists referred to Cambodians and foreigners who work and live in Cambodia.
“From the figure we recorded last week, domestic tourists traveling the country increased more than 10 percent. The number of local and foreign tourists is also increasing,” he said. “We will release a report weekly on the number of tourists,” Thong added. “To attract more tourists to Siem Reap, the ministry will host more than 20 events, collaborating with relevant stakeholders. The event can be workshops, seminars, expos, international meetings or conferences, tourism events, sports, and cultural events,” said Thong.
He added the ministry will facilitate traveling for all tourists by road to visit Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap. At the same time, all authorities are to ensure the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 infection to the country and to attract the tourists at the same time.
“At present, it is an opportunity for all sectors to strengthen the quality of services and local authorities at all levels will have to improve and develop infrastructure, road repairs, roadside lighting, decorations, waste management, and hygiene,” he added.
“Siem Reap destination saw a 60 percent drop in the number of tourists but we recorded 4,000 tourists visiting Angkor Wat per day and mostly they were tourists from America and Europe,” Thong added He expects the number of local tourists will increase from 10 to 15 percent, while, the number of international tourists will drop around 10 to 15 percent.
Chuk Chumno, director of the Tourism Product Development Department said Cambodia has about 600 resorts and tourism sites to welcome tourists across the country and another 4,000 potential tourism destinations. “According to this figure, we have enough places to welcome both local and international tourists,” Chuk said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced this week that all registered hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap will be exempt from all taxes from February until May this year. The measure is to facilitate businesses that are losing visitors because of COVID-19, which has seriously damaged the tourism sector in Siem Reap. The government has decided to increase the number of days that visitors can enter Angkor Archaeological Park with entrance passes.