The number of visitor arrivals to Cambodia increased 12.39 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year, according to statistics released yesterday by the Tourism Ministry.
From January to June more than 1.2 million people visited Cambodia, with 166,000 coming in June, an increase of 18.21 percent that month compared to last year, according to the statistics. The increases follow dismal 1.7 percent growth in 2009 as the economic crisis struck the pocketbooks of travelers around the world.
Kong Sopheareak, the director of the Tourism Ministry’s statistics department, said that improvements in roads, as well as recovery from the global economic crisis, has also affected growth.
“I think that the tourism sector will continue to grow as the [economic] crisis moves away,” he said. “The proper facilitation of transportation has contributed to the growth of tourism.”
He added that development of tourism sites in the northern provinces should contribute to the draw of Cambodia, and that Cambodia must continue to promote new activities and destinations.
Luu Meng, president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, said he expected the growth to continue, as bookings at hotels have increased by as much as 20 percent for October, November and December compared to last year.
“I think the high season looks quite positive, not only in our hotel but other hotels in Phnom Penh,” he said. “More people are booking ahead, it’s different than last year.”
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector working group on tourism, said Cambodia must continue developing tour packages to draw visitors, and efforts to increase the number of flights is paying off.
According to the statistics, visitors who arrived by air increased 13.65 percent and account for more than 52 percent of entries.
“We must demand to have tour packages with proper airfare to attract tourists,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)