Visitor arrivals continued to grow in the third quarter, putting Cambodia on track to reach its goal of attracting 2.4 million travelers in 2010 and surpassing pre-economic crisis levels, an official said yesterday.
“We can reach it,” Tourism Minister Thong Khon said yesterday of the 2.4 million mark.
Through September, 1.8 million visitors traveled to Cambodia, marking a 14.56 percent increase compared to the first nine months of 2009, according to figures released yesterday by the Tourism Ministry. Third quarter figures for 2010 increased 19.41 percent over last year’s third quarter.
After dipping in 2009 because of the global economic slowdown, Cambodia’s tourism revenue is likely to surpass pre-crisis levels this year, Mr Khon said. About $1.595 billion was generated from tourism in 2008, while about $1.561 was made in 2009. Mr Khon estimated that tourism in Cambodia would generate about $1.68 billion this year.
At 341,113 people, Vietnam had the highest number of visitors to Cambodia in the first nine months of the year, followed by South Korea at 207,412 and China at 127,829. Nearly 49.2 percent more Vietnamese visitors arrived in Cambodia during the first three quarters of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. South Korea had a 32.06-percent increase and China posted a 40.88-percent jump.
“There is good transportation facilities for Vietnamese tourists who come to visit Cambodia,” said Kong Sopheareak, director of the Tourism Ministry’s statistics department. “They can travel by bus into Cambodia with comfortable roads.”
Visitor arrivals at Siem Reap International Airport jumped 17.65 percent in the first nine months of 2010 to 498,697. Arrivals at Phnom Penh International Airport were up 11.12 percent to 421,930 through September.
Mr Khon, the tourism minister, said he expected about a 10 percent increase in visitor arrivals in 2011 compared to 2010. By 2015, the tourism minister said Cambodia may see between 3.5 to 4 million visitors annually. He said he hoped a recent announcement by Air France to provide commercial flights between Paris and Phnom Penh would help fuel that growth by better tapping the European market.
“When the economy in Europe improves and we have more flights from Europe, the tourism will increase,” he said.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector working group on tourism, agreed that Air France flights would likely draw more visitors.
“It’s a good chance for Cambodia to bring in more European tourists,” he said. “The tourists from all over Europe can benefit.”