Local travel agents reported a slight increase in the number of bookings for overseas destinations during this year’s Chinese New Year holiday, which starts today.
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The increase in bookings points to an increase in outbound tourism, particularly during major holidays.
Lav Heng, president of VLK Royal Tourism, said about 400 Cambodian have hired their services this year to visit destinations outside Cambodia, mostly Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Dubai.
“We’ve seen an increase of 30 percent in the number of outbound Cambodian tourists,” Mr Heng said, adding, however, that they were expecting a bigger hike.
Mr Heng said he noticed a rise in the number of wealthy Cambodians selecting destinations outside of Southeast Asia, particularly South Korea, Japan, Dubai and Europe. By contrast, he said less Cambodians are choosing closer destinations like Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore.
“Middle-class Cambodians are willing to spend more than $1,000 per trip,” he said, adding that this year sales of $400 to $500 tour packages have increased, but only modestly.
Sky King Travel and Tour’s CEO Sok Kunthea said her company has sent 29 groups of Cambodian tourists overseas for the holiday, mostly to Taiwan and Thailand, with Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai as some of the most popular destinations.
She explained that group sizes varied considerably, but that some were as big as 40 people.
“There has been a small increase in the number of Cambodians travelling abroad during this Chinese New Year,” Ms Kunthea said.
However, her company experienced a decline in sales for tour packages to South Korea, Europe, China, and Japan. She explained that it is still too cold in some of these destinations for Cambodian tourists.
Sar Sarin, secretary general of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, told Khmer Times that, generally speaking, this time of year is synonymous with good business for travel agents.
“Generally, the number of outbound tourists increases during this holiday. Now Cambodians are likely to spend more money to travel,” Mr Sarin said.
“Some Cambodians spend from $200 to $500 in tour packages to visit neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore.”
He said it is part of a trend: as the economy develops and living standards rise, more Cambodians can afford to travel abroad.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, 1.75 million locals travelled abroad last year, an increase of 22.2 percent year-on-year.