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Ministry highlights rise in direct flights with Asean countries, China

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
Chinese tourists shop in a store in Siem Reap. China continues to be the Kingdom’s top tourism market. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The number of direct flights linking Cambodian cities to destinations in Asean and China has surged in recent months, according to a recent report from the Ministry of Tourism.

In a brief report, the Ministry notes that the Kingdom is now connected with eight countries in the Asean region – Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Khek Norinda, Cambodia Airports communications director – the company that manages all three international airports in the Kingdom – told Khmer Times that the international airports in Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh together handled an average of 760 flights to and from Asean destinations per week in May.

“In June, we added six weekly flights with the launch of a new route between Jakarta and Phnom Penh,” he pointed out.

The number of direct flights with China is also markedly on the rise. Cambodian airports now handle about 500 flights to and from destinations in China every week.

The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation this week said Phnom Penh is connected with 23 cities in China by air, while Siem Reap and Sihanoukville are linked to 23 and 15 destinations in that country, respectively.

Nineteen airlines operate routes between the countries. 14 of these airlines are Chinese and the rest local, SSCA said.

The government believes that increasing the number of direct flights with Asean countries and China is a critical part of achieving its goal of attracting 15 million foreign tourists by 2030.

The Ministry of Tourism forecasts that 6.7 million foreign tourists will visit Cambodia in 2019. By 2020, the figure will rise to 7 million, according to the ministry.

From January to June, the Kingdom welcomed 3.3 million tourists, an 11 percent increase over the same period last year. China continues to be the Kingdom’s top tourism market, followed by Vietnam.

Top Sopheak, ministry spokesperson, told Khmer Times that encouraging the establishment of new international flights is a priority for the government.

“Our goal for 2030 can be accomplished if more direct flights are created. Direct flights are pivotal in attracting more tourists to our country,” he told Khmer Times yesterday.

Mr Sopheak said direct flights also represent tempting business opportunities for investors eying the Kingdom’s market.

Taing Sochet Krisna, director of Preah Sihanouk’s tourism department, said the province welcomed 1.3 million tourists during the first six months of the year, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to the same period last year.

About 90 percent of all international tourists visiting the province are Chinese, he said. Mr Sochet Krisna noted that about 160,000 Chinese nationals visited the province from January to June, an 88.6 percent hike compared to the same period in 2018.

“The number of tourists and investors will continue to increase as more direct flights are established,” he said.

Cambodia Airports’ Mr Norinda said there is plenty of room to expand all three international airports so that they can accommodate the rise in passengers.

“We must expand the infrastructure and optimise the efficiency of the airports, especially by taking advantage of digital technologies,” he added.

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