The number of tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased 23.5 percent in July 2010 compared to July last year, according to statistics released by the Tourism Ministry.
The new numbers show continued tourist growth over last year. In the first half of 2010, 12.39 percent more tourists arrived in Cambodia than during the same period last year and, in June, 18.21 percent more tourists arrived than in June 2009.
Tourism sector growth was lackluster in 2009 as the global financial crisis forced potential travelers to tighten their belts.
“I think we have now really seen that people are traveling again after the crisis and that easing visa restrictions has helped,” said Kong Sopheareak, director of the Tourism Ministry’s statistics and information department. In late 2008, Vietnam and Cambodia signed a visa exemption agreement.
Growth in 2010 has been largely fueled by an increase in Asian visitors to Cambodia, with Vietnamese tourists in particular showing a renewed interest in visiting their neighbors. Over 50 percent more Vietnamese tourists came to Cambodia during the first seven months of 2010 than during the same period last year.
Mr Sopheareak said that the growing number of Asian tourist arrivals was particularly heartening in light of Cambodia’s plans to host the Asean Tourism Forum 2011, a meeting of government and private sector representatives from the region.
The Tourism Ministry was scheduled to officially announce today at an event in Phnom Penh that Cambodia would hold the tourism forum starting on Jan 15.
“This forum will not only bring Asean to Cambodia but also Asean and Cambodia to the rest of the world,” Tourism Minister Thong Khon said yesterday, adding that government representatives from China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia would also be in attendance—the latter two as observers.
According to Mr Khon, more than 400 booths will be set up at the forum for tourism businesses to showcase the goods and experiences they offer. Mr Khon added that he and Cabinet Minister Sok An would co-chair the committee in charge of preparations for the forum.
Cambodia last hosted the event in 2003.