Travel Agent: Karaoke Ban Keeps Asean Tourists Away

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.


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