‘Service sector to become Cambodia’s largest by GDP’

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said that the service sector is expected to become Cambodia’s largest by gross domestic product (GDP) composition, replacing industry and agriculture.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and travel sector, disrupting businesses across all types of industries.

Nearly 1,200 establishments in the tourism industry were closed and almost 22,000 direct jobs have been lost as of May this year due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Tourism said in June last year.

“With the arrival of foreign tourists, the service sector will expectedly increase and share the largest composition of Cambodia’s GDP,” the Prime Minister said at a get-together with garment workers in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Last year, the industry sector shared the largest composition of the country’s GDP with 38 percent, followed by the service sector and agricultural sector with 35 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Cambodia received around 2.4 million foreign tourists in the first five months of 2023, a significant rise of 530 percent from 343,464 over the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s report.

The tourism industry, a key component of the country’s service sector, has witnessed remarkable growth with tourism arrivals reaching 6.6 million in 2019, generating gross revenue of $4.92 billion.

During the pandemic time, Cambodia took multiple initiatives to help foster the growth of the service sector, including adjusting several regulations related to foreign investments in the industry.

Cambodia has pinned high hopes for its tourism recovery after Chinese tourists gradually returned to the Southeast Asian nation.

Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Cambodia hopes to attract more than 4 million foreign tourists in 2023, almost doubling from 2.27 million in 2022.

“The recovery of the tourism sector has importantly contributed to our country’s post-pandemic economic growth, which is forecast at 5.6 percent this year,” Khon said at a bi-annual conference of the Ministry of Tourism in Phnom Penh last week.

Tourism is one of the four pillars supporting the Cambodian economy.

The country has three world heritage sites, namely Angkor archaeological park in northwestern Siem Reap province, Preah Vihear Temple in northwestern Preah Vihear province, and Sambor Prei Kuk archaeological site in central Kampong Thom province.

Besides, it is known for its pristine coastline stretching in the length of 450 km in four southwestern provinces of Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep, and Koh Kong.