Hoteliers Are Warming Up to Phnom Penh

Compared to the bustling tourist center of Siem Reap, Phnom Penh has long stood in second place as an investment destination for international hotel operations.

But as infrastructure slowly improves and the number of visitors to the capital continues to grow, international hotel chains are taking a second look at potential opportunities in Phnom Penh.

On the list of prospective hotels is Aman Resorts, which sees the city as the obvious next spot to build following their successful presence in Siem Reap.

“The next destination would be Phnom Penh,” said Anjali Nihalchand, spokesperson for Aman. “No reason that we’re not there. It’s just a question of finding the right sites,” he said.

Jane Cai, Marriot International’s communications director for Pacific and Asian countries, said her company is “actively working on a number of different projects in Cambodia.”

Ms. Cai, however, would not confirm if Marriott is looking specifically at Phnom Penh for one of those projects.

Rosewood Hotels, which has operations in North America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, is also scheduled to open a branch in Phnom Penh next year.

“Every month we have a chain hotel interested [in] looking to open a hotel here” in Phnom Penh, said Luu Meng, president of the Cambodia Hotel Association.

While Siem Reap has long been the main tourist destination in Cambodia, the number of foreign visitors to Phnom Penh and other cities in the country has increased by nearly a third between 2012 and 2013, while those visiting to Siem Reap grew by 8.1 percent.

The hotel industry is waking up to Phnom Penh’s increasing popularity among tourists, said Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism.

“They see the figures from the last 10 years,” Mr. Vandy said, referring to figures from the Ministry of Tourism showing the number of visitors to Cambodia growing from just 700,000 in 2003 to more than 3.5 million in 2012.

“They have sensed a lot of change in the country,” he added.

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