Chinese Squeeze Out Tour Groups in Siem Reap

Japanese and Korean tourists are being turned away from hotels in Siem Reap City due to an increase in bookings by Chinese visitors, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the tourism industry’s three-day expo on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island on Wednesday, Mr. Khon appealed to investors to build more hotels in Siem Reap City to accommodate Japanese and Korean tourists, who often book rooms in large groups and are struggling to find accommodation during the high season.

“At recent forums in Korea and Japan, Japanese tour companies said bluntly that they have not been able to book hotel [rooms] in Siem Reap this high season because Chinese tourist numbers have increased sharply,” Mr. Khon said.

“I would like to appeal to all investors to pay more attention and invest in building hotels at prime tourism destinations…where there is a lack of rooms.”

In the first eight months of this year, Chinese tourists to Siem Reap increased 14.8 percent compared with the same period last year, from 181,224 to 208,180, according to the Tourism Ministry. Korean and Japanese visitors increased by 2.94 percent to 250,926 and 4.5 percent to 99,399, respectively.

Over the past year, direct flights between China and Cambodia have increased as the government made a concerted effort to bring in more Chinese tourists.

“Cambodia is close to China, cheap and culturally relatively similar, making the Chinese comfortable with eating and traveling around Cambodia. Another advantage for Cambodia is most Chinese tourists holidaying in Cambodia visit only Cambodia,” says a July report by the Sydney-based Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.

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