Tourist arrivals to Cambodia are forecasted for continued growth in 2020, albeit it a slower rate compared to previous years according to a report by the National Bank of Cambodia.
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In the Macroeconomics and Banking for 2019 and Outlook for 2020 issued last Thursday by the National Bank of Cambodia, the number of foreign tourists will hit 7 million by 2020, increasing from the estimated 6.7 million in 2019.
Chinese tourists are the main market for the country’s tourism the report stated, citing that Chinese tourists accounted for 38 percent of all arrivals.
“Arrivals of foreign tourists will continue to increase, particularly the trend of visits to coastal areas and for business tours.”
In comparison, the projected 6.1 percent growth for 2020 declined from 10.7 percent in 2018 and estimated 8.7 percent in 2019.
Tourism Ministry’s spokesman Top Sopheak said on Monday that although at a slower growth rate in 2020, the 7 million of foreign tourists projected is in line with the ministry’s target.
“[Slowdown in growth] is a concern at the same time we have worked to attract foreign tourists to make the growth high and it is the commitment of the Ministry of Tourism. We call for collaboration with other parties because to develop a tourism sector involve other sectors to collaborate with,” Mr Sopheak said.
“Foreign tourist arrivals in general are growing. But we are working to push more creative product development to attract more tourists,” Mr Sopheak said.
Foreign tourists visiting Siem Reap province, home of the famed Angkor archaeological park, decreased stirring concerns over the tourism sector in general.
The external issues relating to the world economic slowdown and trade war between China and the US and other internal issues have resulted in the number of foreign tourists in Siem Reap province to decline, Mr Sopheak said, citing that the number of foreign tourists increased significantly in Prea Sihanouk province, a coastal area southwest of Phnom Penh.
Thoun Sinan, president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, urged to strengthen the quality of tourism products and to go to digitalised marketing promotion to attract more tourists.
“In general, the number of foreign tourist have increased, but if you breakdown by region like in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh the number is decreasing,” Mr Sinan said. “Tourism feels the effects from two issues one from external and one from internal factors, which is a bad sign to the sector.”
For internal issues, Mr Sinan said the government should create product development to give options for tourists beside just only to visit the temples, strengthen law enforcement, strengthen the quality of tourism products and service, and promote the market via digital platform to foreign countries widely.
The number of foreign tourists declined in Siem Reap, but it has also increased in the coastal areas, it is a new trend of tourists, but the ministry has worked to identify the issues of why the number of tourists declined in order to attract them to visit Siem Reap, Mr Sopheak said.
Figures from Cambodia Airports, show the number of passengers through the Sihanoukville International Airport experienced a high growth from January to November last year, hitting a record high with 177 percent increase, to 1.5 million passengers.
However, for Mr Sinan, the Preah Sihanoukville province which is currently having heavy investment by Chinese investors, are expected to see arrivals of only Chinese tourists in the short time.
“Preah Sihanouk province will not be able to attract non-Chinese tourists till the good management of environment, garbage management and other issues,” Mr Sinan said. “From 2 to 3 year, only Chinese tourists as major group visit the province.”
The Tourism Ministry has set the ambitious goal to attract at least 11 million of foreign tourists by 2025 and 25 million by 2030.