A Tourism Ministry report published on Friday said that Cambodia saw a 9.7 percent increase of foreign tourist arrivals during the first quarter of this year.
According to the report, Chinese tourists top the country’s tourism market list with 683,436, a number that increased from quarter to quarter by 35.1 percent. Vietnamese tourists ranked second with 186,863, followed by Laos with 121,489 tourists, Thailand with 97,942 tourists and South Korea with 95,719 tourists.
A total of 1.29 million tourists arrived in the Kingdom via three international airports, while 578,371 arrived via land and waterway.
The report said Phnom Penh and its surrounding areas are the most attractive destinations for international tourists. The area received a total of 1.08 million tourists during the first three months of this year.
Siem Reap province, home to the Angkor temples, received about 787,900 foreign tourists, while coastal provinces such as Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampot and Koh Kong received 303,285 tourists.
In a recent meeting, Tourism Minister Thong Khon called on relevant parties to increase the quality of tourism services.
Mr Khon said poor hospitality in the tourism sector has been reported, particularly in visa processing which requires tourists to spend informal expenses.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, yesterday echoed Mr Khon’s statement. She said poor hospitality in the sector can discourage tourists from returning to the Kingdom.
“With nine to 10 percent growth, we are not satisfied because there are many issues we need to overcome. Other Asean countries try hard to attract foreign tourists and make them stay longer,” Ms Sivlin said. “We have to learn and try our best to get those in the private sector and the government to strengthen tourism services.”
“In terms of hospitality, we see some progress, but only small points,” she added. “When we offer poor services to tourists at border gates, tourists are not satisfied and will end their stay earlier.”
Ms Sivlin noted that the domestic production of goods to be sold to tourists should be increased, so local producers can benefit from tourists.
According to a Tourism Ministry Facebook post, Mr Khon said while most tourists arrived via airports, domestic flights are in need of a boost.
“Foreign tourists want to be able to take a plane from Sihanoukville in order to visit Angkor Wat,” he said. “It is easy to go on cruise ships, but domestic air services are difficult.”
Last year, Cambodia received 6.2 million tourists, with the tourism sector earning $4.3 billion.
This year, Cambodia expects to welcome 6.7 million tourists, while it expects to receive seven million by 2020.