Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia

International tourism is accelerating in Cambodia

Cambodia was the first country in Southeast Asia to fully reopen to international tourism in November 2021. In the first seven months of 2022, Cambodia attracted more than 740,000 international visitors, an increase of 560% compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The number of international tourist arrivals to Cambodia has increased faster than forecasted, prompting the government to reset the target from 1 million to 2 million visitors in 2022. Thailand is currently the leading source market to Cambodia, followed by Vietnam, China, the United States and Indonesia.

During January – September this year, the  Angkor Archaeological Park – the most popular tourist destination in the country – attracted 134,152 foreign tourists, an increase of 2,075 percent year-on-year with $5.36 million in revenue from ticket sales. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, up to 2.2 million foreign visitors visited the ancient park, bringing in $99 million from ticket revenues. The kingdom has recently announced a new offering of one free admission per year to the Angkor and Koh Ker Temple for foreigners who have been living in Cambodia for more than two years to encourage visitation.

With positive signs of tourism recovery, Cambodia government continues intensifying the efforts to support the sector to bounce back better. The recent implementation of the $150 million Tourism Recovery Co-Financing Scheme for Small and Medium Enterprises allows tourism entrepreneurs to apply for loans up to $400,000 for rebuilding the business at a maximum interest rate of 6.5 per cent per annum, a 12-month grace period, and loan term of up to seven years. Further, the Ministry of Tourism is actively promoting the implementation of the third phase of public financial management reform to support tourism businesses and enhance their competitiveness. A number of key strategic outcomes have been achieved including the reform of the tourism license application system and the review of compliance with legal standards.  

Aiming to diversify tourism offerings, Cambodia has identified gastronomy tourism as a major priority to increase visitation to the country. The kingdom is preparing to publish a “Cambodian Food Tourism Map” and will soon publish handy guidebooks to be distributed at tourist information centers in all cities and provinces.

Sustainability remains a strong focus for the tourism sector’s recovery in the country. The Ministry of Environment has enacted the guidelines for the implementation of small-scale ecotourism development projects for areas of less than 10 hectares in protected areas and biodiversity corridors. The Ministry is also developing policies, strategies and action plans to ensure that ecotourism is actively contributing to environmental and biodiversity protection, sustainable living as well as modern administration and conservation of natural resources.

Sources: Khmer Times, The Phnom Penh Post and China Xinhua News

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia

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