Chinese-owned airlines are expanding their services in the Kingdom, opening new routes between provinces across China and Sihanoukville, where Chinese nationals are investing heavily.
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Last week, Hainan Airlines launched a new route linking Haikou, the capital of Hainan province, to Sihanoukville. The flight operates three times a week using a Boeing 737-800.
Also last week, Lanmei Airlines, a Chinese-owned low-cost airline based in Phnom Penh, started flying to Sihanoukville from Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, as well as from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.
Earlier this month, the same airline launched a route connecting the Cambodian coastal city to Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province.
The airline plans to begin flying to Yunnan province’s Jinghong from Sihanoukville next month.
In late June, Lanmei Airlines also began operating a direct flight from Siem Reap to Shanxi province’s Datong.
Moreover, JC Airlines recently launched a direct flight between Xishuangbanna, an autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province, to Siem Reap, home of Unesco-listed Angkor Archaeological Park.
The Chinese provinces of Jilin and Zhejiang will also soon get a direct flight to the Kingdom, according to an industry insider.
There are now 181 flights per week connecting Cambodia and China, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The slew of recently-launched flights will further boost the influx of tourists from China, already Cambodia’s biggest tourism market.
According to the latest figure from the ministry, 1.1 million Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom during the first five months this year, a 40 percent hike compared to the same period last year.
The ministry aims to welcome 3 million Chinese tourists a year by 2020, 5 million by 2025, and 8 million by 2030.
So Mara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, recently said that the ministry has prepared a strategy to attract more Chinese tourists.
“China is the biggest market for the Cambodian tourism sector. The Ministry of Tourism has drafted a series of strategies to attract more Chinese tourists. Known as the ‘China Ready’ strategy, it seeks to facilitate travel, including visa issuance, for Chinese tourists,” Mr Mara said.
An estimated 80,000 Chinese nationals live in Sihanoukville, with almost 90 percent of hotels, casinos, restaurants and massage parlor there run by Chinese, according to a report from the provincial police published earlier this month.
The report noted that the province has 71 casinos in operation, 48 of which are operated by Chinese. Citizens of China also run at least 150 hotels and guesthouses, 41 KTVs and 46 massage parlours.