As Southeast Asia reopens and scrambles to attract international tourists, Cambodia has announced triumphant numbers from the Ministry of Tourism, declaring over 740,000 tourists from abroad between January to the end of July this year. The swell of tourists is about 22.5% of the number of travellers pre-pandemic, but a 560% increase over figures for the first half of 2022.
By comparison, Thailand’s 3.3 million international visitors in the same period is just 8.5% of the number of tourists travelling to the kingdom before Covid-19. Cambodia welcomed 6.6 million international travellers in 2019, about 6.1 times less than Thailand’s 40 million tourists. The figures announced now amount to just 4.5 times fewer tourists to Cambodia than to Thailand, a significant shift in the balance of where tourists are travelling to in Southeast Asia today.
Cambodia’s tourism minister said that major destinations like Siem Reap with the temples of Angkor Wat, the capital city of Phnom Penh, and the beaches of Sihanoukville are all reaping the growth rewards of the relaunching of all socioeconomic activities. Last year the country saw just 200,000 international tourists arriving with the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this year Cambodia has set the goal of attracting at least one million travellers from abroad this year – a reasonable aim since they were nearly three-quarters of the way there at the end of last month.
Looking ahead, the country is forecasting double the amount of visitors next year to hit the two million international tourist mark in 2023. The Tourism Ministry hopes those figures will steadily rise until they reach pre-pandemic levels in 2026 or 2027.
Cambodia, like Thailand, relies heavily on tourism to prop up national revenue, calling it one of the four pillars of their economy along with agriculture, construction, and the export of footwear and garments. It brought in nearly US$5 billion in 2019 before Covid and just US$184 million last year.
During the first seven months of 2022, Cambodia saw great successes in welcoming back international travellers, with Vietnamese tourists topping the list of foreign arrivals, followed by people coming from Thailand and thirdly Chinese travellers.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
Published: The Thaiger 24.8.2022