Emirates Flights From Capital to Boost Tourism, Shipping

Dubai-based Emirates’ recent launch of direct daily flights between Phnom Penh and Rangoon—adding Cambodia’s capital to the airline’s network of 156 destinations worldwide for commercial passengers—will offer new benefits to the tourism and cargo services sectors, industry insiders said on Monday.

The new service would help develop the nation’s economy by increasing travel via connecting flights between Cambodia and Europe, as well as exports from Cambodia to the world, said Badr Abbas, Emirates’ senior vice president of commercial operations for the Far East, during a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday.

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An Emirates airplane at Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday, when new direct flights from Phnom Penh to Rangoon began (Emirates)

“When Emirates fly to a new destination, we create a new market,” Mr. Abbas said. “So even destinations where Cambodia is not a popular destination, we will do a lot of marketing effort in promoting that destination.”

He said the airline’s marketing strategy may include tour packages and group travel promotions.

European tourists to Cambodia last year numbered more than 768,000, or about 15 percent of the country’s total foreign visitors, compared to 719,000 in the previous year, according to Tourism Ministry figures.

Hor Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, welcomed the new airline and said the increase in flights between Cambodia and Europe encouraged Emirates to come to Cambodia.

“We can see many Cambodians who frequently travel to Europe do know about this new airline service provider,” Mr. Vandy said. Plus, European travelers find the airline convenient for connecting flights, so it was likely to “earn more trust from travelers,” he said.

Last year, more than 1.4 million Cambodians traveled abroad, up 20 percent from 2015, according to the Tourism Ministry.

Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general of Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the addition of an airline with daily cargo service was a response to increasing trade between Cambodia and other nations.

The garment sector’s “main mode of transport would still be by sea. However, with small orders of lots of fast fashion, [air cargo service] might be the trend as lead time has become shorter and shorter,” he said in a message, adding that the long-term benefit could be the reduction of cargo service costs.

“The more service providers, the more competitive the market,” he said. “It’s usually beneficial to the clients as a result of market competition.”

Emirates’ inaugural passenger and cargo flights in Cambodia took off on Saturday. Currently, Cambodia is the eighth country in Southeast Asia to become a destination for Emirates. Only Laos and Brunei lack such service.

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