Cambodia saw a slight increase in foreign tourists this year compared to last year, Tourism Minister Thong Khon told a seminar and awards ceremony yesterday, putting the number of foreign tourists this year at 4.8 million, compared to 4.5 million in 2014.
Mr. Khon made the comments at a seminar on clean tourist cities in ASEAN and the Prime Minister Hun Sen Eco-business Awards for Tourism 2016.
He also forecast that the number of foreign tourists would reach 7.5 million in 2020, and said they would generate about $5 billion in economic activity and create about 800,000 jobs.
Mr. Khon described the growth of the tourism sector as “remarkable” over the past decade, saying it had bolstered the development of country’s economy along with agriculture, the garment industry and construction. The government is responding to the rise of eco-business by implementing a campaign called “Clean City, Clean Resort and Good service,” the minister said. Its strategy is to develop eco-tourism, and make Cambodia cleaner and more environmentally friendly to attract more tourists, Mr. Khon said.
Ho Vandy, advisor to the Chamber Commerce of Cambodia and president of World Express Tours and Travel, told Khmer Times said the number of foreign tourists rose slightly this year due to external issues, including plane crashes, terrorism by groups like Islamic State and insecurity in neighboring countries. He said that improving cleanliness, expanding eco-businesses and implementing the new tourism campaign would draw more foreign tourists next year.
Last week, Phnom Penh International Airport set a new record for passenger traffic, breaking the 3 million mark in one year for the first time since it reopened after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. In 2014, the number of passengers passing through Cambodia’s international airports totaled 5.7 million. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports provide nearly 500 regular flights per week, connecting both cities to 30 foreign cities, primarily in Asia.