Vietnam: Foreign tourist footfall in Kingdom to reach 2 million by year-end

Showing signs of fast recovery from the pandemic, Cambodia’s tourism sector now looks forward to recording two million foreign tourist arrivals by this year-end, up from the previous projections of 1.2 to 1.3 million.

According to the Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, Cambodia welcomed around 1.2 million visitors from January to September this year, which amounted to an 861 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.

The number of domestic tourists also increased, reaching 9.6 million, a 430 percent jump compared to the same period in 2021, the minister said while participating at CAMFOOD’22 and CAMBUILD’22, a three-day international exhibition on food, hotel, and hospitality, in Phnom Penh, recently.

The minister credited this rise in both international and domestic visitors to the receding impact of Covid-19. According to him, so far, 2,708 tourism-related businesses have reopened across the country, helping 31,105 employees to get back their jobs.

Based on the Tourism Ministry’s projections, the arrival of foreign tourists could reach around two million and domestic tourists 11 million by the year-end. It also projected that by 2028, Cambodia could attract around 7.5 million international tourists and 16 million domestic tourists.

The Kingdom had received 6.6 million international tourists in pre-pandemic 2019.

Meanwhile, the profile of visitors to Cambodia is also now changing. In the pre-pandemic days, it was dominated by Chinese visitors. But now the country is banking on increased tourist arrivals from neighbouring Asean countries and Europe as China is yet to fully open due to its ‘Zero Covid’ policy.

It is believed that the Southern Tourism Corridor Cooperation, participated by Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos besides Cambodia could encourage more tourists from these countries to visit the Kingdom during the year-end and New Year.

Speaking with Khmer Times, Thourn Sinan, Chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia Chapter, agreed that the absence of Chinese tourists had impacted Cambodia’s tourism industry to some extent.

“I don’t think the Chinese are coming back anytime soon. We will have to wait further,” he said.

Meanwhile, with support of the government, the PATA Cambodia Chapter will organise a ‘Temple Walk for Heritage’ on December 3 to 4 at Preah Vihear Temple to promote tourism and to raise awareness on the environment.

The coastal Preah Sihanouk province is also gearing up to host the 9th Sea Festival from December 9 to 11, the first since 2019, and the World Bays Club’s 2022 Congress from December 9 to 14 themed ‘Bays of Peace, Bays of Hope.’ The two events are expected to attract footfalls from across the country and from the neighbouring countries as well, boosting the tourism sector in the Kingdom.

For Cambodia, the Year 2022 started well as it got the chance to organise the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF), which was attended by 3,000 delegates from different parts of the region. It was the first major tourism event in the region in three years.

Cambodia was also the first country that reopened after the Covid-19 shutdown in the region and the country’s successful vaccination campaign had contributed a lot to this achievement.

The government also got into the act of boosting the tourism sector revival with various incentives, including the $150 million Tourism Recovery Co-Financing Scheme, launched on July 1 for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) where an entrepreneur could avail up to $600,000 for rebuilding
the business.

Next year could also make a lot of difference to the tourism sector as Cambodia will host the South East Asia (SEA) Games in May and the Para Games in June.