Thai Airways is planning to offer flight discounts to Cambodians living overseas in a joint effort by the carrier and Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism to encourage them to visit their country of origin, Minister of Tourism Lay Prohas said.
The discounts could be available within two months, Lay Prohas said Thursday, adding that the two parties are designing an international marketing campaign to attract overseas Cambodians.
“We lack a national flag carrier but Thai Airways will play a role as gathering arm for Cambodian tourism,” he said after meeting with Thai Airways executives in Phnom Penh, adding that he did not know how big the discount would be.
Thai Airways will publish magazines and organize roadshows and international exhibitions to promote Cambodia to overseas Cambodians, particularly the young, he said.
“Young Cambodians overseas do not know how good the Cambodian situation is today,” he added.
Thai Airways officials could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Lay Prohas estimated that 1 million Cambodians are living overseas, primarily in Europe, the US, Australia and Canada, adding that the marketing campaign will focus on festivals including Khmer New Year and the Water Festival.
In 2005, 71,630 overseas Cambodians visited Cambodia, according to Kong Sophearak, the tourism ministry’s deputy director of statistics. This was an increase of nearly 20,000 from 53,479 in 2004.
Hang Chuon Naron, secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance, said attracting Cambodians would diversify the tourism industry.
Tim Smyth, managing director of Indochina Research, said investment by overseas Cambodians appears to be accelerating and would be helped by tourism outreach.
Overseas Cambodians are moving their investment here from land into service industries such as dental clinics, shops and restaurants, he said. “The impact of this is huge,” he added.