The government’s ban on karaoke parlors has hurt Cambodia’s ability to draw tourists from Asean countries, a top Cambodian travel agent suggested Monday, although total tourism arrivals for February 2002 rose compared to the same month last year.
“One of the reasons the number of tourists from Singapore, Malaysia and China have decreased might be because Prime Minister Hun Sen closed all the nightclubs and karaoke parlors in Cambodia,” said Meng Hieng, head of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agencies, an umbrella organization representing at least 50 tourism companies.
“[The closure of nightclubs] affected tourism here because many Malaysian tourists and Chinese tourists come here for fun.”
The Ministry of Tourism’s recently released tourism statistical report for February 2002 shows that 42,739 people visited Cambodia in February 2002 compared to 38,630 people in February 2001.
Tourists and business travelers from the US, France and Taiwan topped the list of February visitors to Cambodia. But the number from Asean countries declined from 4,783 in February 2001 to 3,973 in February 2002.
The number of US tourists declined slightly, from 3,252 in February 2001 to 3,011 in February 2002. “A small part of the decrease in US tourists is the Sept 11 attacks, but I think the main reason…is because we do not market well to the US,” Meng Hieng said. “If we market more in the US, we could be better.”
Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth said the ministry will strengthen its marketing of Cambodia as a tourist destination in the future. He theorized that the drop in US visitors to Cambodia is due to both the Sept 11 attacks and the struggling US economy.
He declined to comment directly on the drop in Asean tourists, saying only that visitors from Asean countries may not be coming because February is not a good time of year for regional travelers.