Figures published by the Ministry of Tourism for Cambodian tourism up to November 2015 make optimistic reading. Overall visitor numbers are just over 8 percent up for the same period in 2015, with around million tourists having entered the country by the end of Nov. 2015.
Whilst most arrive by air, Siem Reap welcomed slightly more passengers than Phnom Penh, almost half arrive by land and a few by sea; all points of entry show increased tourist arrivals compared to 2014.
All areas of the country reflect this increase except, notably, Angkor Wat, which has suffered a 9.5 percent drop in visitor numbers in the year to November. Phnom Penh welcomed the highest number (2.2 million) and highest increase (20.9 percent) in tourist arrivals across the Kingdom.
By far the largest number of tourists (1.6 million) came from within the ASEAN region, 753,194 from Vietnam alone. China, particularly those from secondary cities with their burgeoning middle class’ new-found propensity for foreign travel, ran a close second, sending 540,651 visitors to Cambodia. The UK topped the list of European nations visiting the Kingdom.
These figures are likely to increase given the closer regional ties created by the launch of the AEC in January and the co-operation between the Cambodian and Chinese authorities to encourage greater numbers to visit the Kingdom.
Figures for the first month of 2016 are also encouraging.
According to statistics from Cambodian Airports, Phnom Penh International Airport welcomed more than 289,000 passengers on over 2,000 domestic and international flights, an increase of 8.1 percent. Siem Reap International Airport handled more than 394,000 passengers (down 1.1 percent) from over 3,000 flights (down.5%), compared to the same period in 2015. Passenger traffic at Sihanouk International Airport has continued to grow at 31.3 percent to 11,668 passengers while flights have increased by 50 percent. Even cargo movement has increased in the Kingdom’s two largest airports.
In order to further capitalise on the recent boom in Chinese visitor numbers, a programme to raise awareness of Cambodia as a desirable destination was undertaken in December 2015. Cambodia Airports, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, and Dragon Air, Cambodia Angkor Air and Hong Kong Airlines, organised a familiarisation trip for major Chinese tour operators. Tour operators from mainland China and one airline representative were invited on the trip. The came from nine of China’s secondary cities, including Hunan, Qingdao, and Zhengzhou.
The event provided a platform for them to meet their Cambodian counterparts and share information with the aim of further boosting Chinese arrivals into Cambodia. The tour took the participants to Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and the temples at Angkor Wat, enabling them engage with of all three prime tourist destinations in Cambodia.