Tourism Minister Thong Khon announced last week that Cambodia welcomed more than 1.7 million tourists during the first quarter of the year, an increase of 14 percent, which he attributed to the government’s strategy to attract international visitors.
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Chinese tourists continue to top the list of visitors to the country by nationality, according to Mr Khon.
“We are meeting our goals as laid out in our strategy for the sector and are on course to greet 6 million visitors by the end of the year,” the Minister said.
With over 500,000 visitors in the first three months of the year, an increase of 80 percent, China is the largest market for the local tourism industry. Cambodia expects to welcome 1.8 million Chinese tourists in 2018, 2.4 million in 2019 and 2.6 million in 2020, Mr Khon said.
New direct flights connecting Cambodia with a host of destinations in China and closer ties between the Cambodian and Chinese governments are the biggest factors cited by experts as contributing to the hike in the number of Chinese visitors.
“Chinese tourists like to visit Cambodia because it is geographically close to China and there are many direct flights,” said Luu Meng, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Tourism Working Group. “The dramatic rise in the number of Chinese visitors shows that the government’s efforts are paying off.”
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that in order to allow the sector to grow as planned, more effort needs to be put into diversifying the country’s tourism offer.
“We need more high-quality tourism products to keep attracting tourists and make them stay longer,” he said.Last year, Cambodia attracted 5.6 million foreign tourists. 1.2 million came from China.