Chinese top Angkor Wat
Most of the foreign tourists who visited the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Angkor Archaeological Park last year hailed from China, the Angkor Institute said yesterday.
According to a report released by the institute, close to 670,000 Chinese tourists purchased tickets to enter the temple complex last year, followed by tourists from South Korea and the US at 11 percent and seven percent respectively.
While this figure was far lower than the government’s 900,000 Chinese visitor estimate, the report noted that the turnout was a result of the kingdom’s ongoing efforts to attract more tourists from the Asian powerhouse, including the introduction of direct flights between China and Siem Reap.
“The ministry has implemented policies to attract Chinese tourists all of last year so we saw hotel reservations, restaurant patronage, tour agencies and even the number of Chinese-speaking tour guides increase,” Ngov Sengkak, director of the Siem Reap provincial tourism department, said.
Tourists from China are the second-largest group of tourists who visited Cambodia in 2016, the first being tourists from Vietnam. However most Vietnamese tourists opted against visiting the historical site due to limited accessibility to the temple complex via land.
“Vietnamese tourists prefer to use mainland transportation rather than fly and because the road from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap last year was not completely built so that is the reason there were fewer Vietnamese at the park,” Mr. Sengkak said.
Vietnam came in 10th on the list of visitors to the Angkor Archaeological Park, with there being only 68,000 passes sold to Vietnamese tourists.
Cambodia National Tourism Alliance secretary-general Ho Vandy said that the direct flights to China have helped boost tourism numbers and improve bilateral ties.
“The progress of direct flights between Cambodia and China, the increase in Chinese investment in the country as well as the good diplomatic ties between China and Cambodia have contributed and will continue to contribute to the growing number of Chinese tourists in this country,” Mr. Vandy said.
Pacific Asia Travel Association local branch chairman Thoun Sinan has previously said that while direct flights between the two nations has been helpful, the government also needed to focus on other aspects of the tourism sector beyond that of religious sites like Angkor Wat.
The Angkor Archaeological Park welcomed close to 2.2 million foreign tourists last year, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to 2015 and generated $62.5 million in revenue.
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