February Tourist Arrivals Decrease From 2008

Tourist arrivals for the month of February dropped by 6.5 percent, according to statistics released Wednesday from the Ministry of Tourism, a steeper decline than the 1 percent dip that was projected earlier by the government.

A total of 200,789 foreign visitors came to Cambodia in February, according to the ministry. But compared to the same month last year, the country saw 14,113 fewer people visiting for business or pleasure, figures showed.

Kong Sopheareak, director of the ministry’s statistics and tourism information department, said the drop in Cambodia’s tourism could be blamed on several factors, though he declined to detail the reasons.

“We have a lot of reasons,” he said.

Earlier this month, both Kong Sopheareak and Tourism Minister Thong Khon estimated a 1 percent drop for tourism levels in February before the numbers were finalized. Thong Khon could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to the ministry’s figures, Vietnam in February maintained its rank as the top country of origin for visitors to Cambodia, the number one spot that it clinched from South Korea in January of this year.

Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the government-private sector tourism working group, said that the de-creasing figures indicate that both the state and the private sector need to find new ways to attract tourists.

“It is surprising,” he said of the steep drop, and added that if the government doesn’t take action soon, “the number will get worse and worse.”



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