More than 2.66 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia in the first six months of the year, representing a 12.8 percent rise over the same period last year, according to a report from Tourism Ministry.
International tourist arrivals by air rose to 1,605,664, representing a 23 percent increase in the first six months.
Arrivals by land and waterways rose slightly to 1,057,015, of whom 967,490 came by land and 89,525 by boat.
The number of tourist arrivals from China and Laos rose sharply in the first six months of the year, while those from Vietnam dropped down the list to the second-top arrivals.
Kong Sopheareak, the director of statistics and information at the Ministry of Tourism, said yesterday that from January to June, tourist arrivals from China rose about 40 percent, up to 529,967 to put it at the top of the list.
Visitors from Laos rose 82 percent, to 224,272 from 123,112.
Vietnam dropped to second top on the charts with a fall of 15 percent to 392,388 from 461,761 in the same period last year.
South Koreans dropped about 1.4 percent to 190,310 tourists, Mr Sopheareak said.
“The increase in Laotian tourists visiting Cambodia was because Cambodia had just opened new border gates with Laos. Moreover, the Laotian government is encouraging its citizens to travel abroad,” he said.
Mr Sopheareak said that the fall in Vietnamese tourists was because Cambodia did not have new tourism products to attract Vietnamese.
On the rise in number of Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia, Mr Sopheareak said it was due to the Chinese government’s policy of encouraging investment in foreign countries.
He said that Cambodia’s China Ready policy and the push for more Chinese-speaking guides to serve Chinese tourists also played a big role.
Recently, the Ministry of Tourism announced the first China Ready Contest for this year, aiming at strengthening the tourism industry to be ready to welcome Chinese tourists as it plans to have two million of them in 2020.
In June, the government announced that it wants to train 50,000 tourism professionals every year between now and 2025 under a new development strategy for human resources within the tourism sector.
According to a draft of the development strategy, Cambodia needs tourism experts with innovative ideas to serve the country and the region in line with the changing economy, society and markets.
Last October, a tourism development agreement was signed last week between the Tourism Ministry and China’s Shanghai Spring International Travel Service Group to boost the influx of Chinese tourists to the kingdom. The signing of the agreement came after the visit of China’s President Xi Jinping.