Nearly 2,000 foreign tourists descended on Sihanoukville city last week as the Australia-based cruise ship “Sun Princess” made a brief return to the port, officials and tourism-sector workers said yesterday.
The vessel arrived in the port on Thursday, having come from Australia via Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian countries including Singapore and Vietnam, according to Ang Seng Eang, director of Angkor TK tour agency. The passengers visited Sihanoukville city and nearby beaches before the ship departed for Bangkok later that same night, he added.
This is the fourth time the 100-meter long, 40-meter wide vessel has visited the port, Mr Seng Eang said, following three stops last year.
Provincial Governor Sboang Sarath said that the number of cruise ship visiting Sihanoukville port had increased steadily since 1999.
“It is a good thing for us because it shows tourists still come to visit our Kingdom of Cambodia, even though the world economy is not growing,” Mr Sarath said.
The number of visitors to Cambodia in the first four months of 2010 was 884,657–a 10.6 percent rise over the same period last year–according to data released by the Ministry of Tourism on May 21.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said that arrivals by cruise ship were important for the continuing development of Cambodia’s tourism industry, and that the ministry wished to encourage tourists to stay longer by increasing access to other parts of the country.
“The important thing we want to implement is connecting the beach area to cultural tourism in places in Siem Reap by arranging a regular flight,” he said.
Ho Vandy, co-president of the Government-Private Sector Tourism Working Group and head of Cambodia’s association of travel agents, said that regular flights between Sihanoukville and other parts of the country would be very beneficial to the sector.
“We could keep tourists who come on cruise ships staying longer in our country if we had a proper flight schedule,” he said.