No Sign of Let-Up in Cambodia’s Tourism Boom

The tourism boom continues to pick up speed, with Prime Minister Hun Sen announcing Wednesday that arrivals to Cambodia have climbed 19 percent in the first three quarters of 2007, compared to the same period last year.

Cambodia recorded about 1.7 million tourist arrivals in 2006 and Hun Sen said the country expects to tip the 2-million-visitor mark by the end of the year.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Thursday that the increase was due to a rise in the number of flights into Cambodia and greater awareness abroad of the range of attractions the country had to offer.

There has also been a significant increase in tourists crossing into Cambodia from Thailand at the Poipet border crossing since Octo­ber, but the state of the road leading to Siem Reap town remains a problem, said Sar Chamrong, de­puty governor of Banteay Mean­chey province.

“We will have more tourists coming in by this route when the road is better,” he said.

Reconstruction work on the notoriously poor road from Poipet town to Siem Reap town is slated to finish some time in 2008.

Despite the rosy outlook, more benefits of the increase in tourism revenue should be trickling down to workers, said Pat Sambo, vice president of the Tourism Union.

“More visitors has meant extra work for our hotel, airport and guesthouse workers but their salaries have remained low,” he said.

Moeung Sonn, president of National Association of Tourism Enterprise, said the growing numbers of tourists sounded good, they are still too focused on the high season alone.

“We must do more to see that tourists come here all year around,” he said.



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