Travel industry players have affirmed their commitment to working with the government to ensure the success of the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign, with the slogan “Every Day is A Wonder”, to showcase the Kingdom’s tourism potential through a host of local events and otherwise promote the industry.

Among the tourism campaign’s objectives are to attract no less than four million international arrivals and bring the cumulative total of domestic travellers to the capital and all 24 provinces up to at least 15 million, as tallied by the Ministry of Tourism and subordinate agencies.

It also aims to sharpen the competitive edge of the tourism sector post-Covid-19, and places a firm focus on the Kingdom’s historic inaugural hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in May and ASEAN Para Games in June.

A circular on “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and issued on February 23 explained that the initiative goes hand-in-hand with another campaign called “Cambodia – Kingdom of Wonder, Feel the Warmth”.

The latter, it said, is built on the four pillars of heritage and culture; eco-tourism; coastal tourism; and Khmer identity, purposed to provide travellers with unique and diverse experiences.

The circular instructed the tourism ministry to work with the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) on promoting “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” and upcoming Angkor Sangkran events in April, as well as using the Games’ mascots – two rabbits named Borey (male) and Rumduol (female).

It ordered national flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air to use the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” logo in their advertisements and other communications, as well as to encourage other airlines to place the insignia on any aircraft flying into the Kingdom. It also called for other government agencies’ involvement in the campaign.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin welcomed the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign, hailing its focus on the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games.

She explained that effective Covid-19 management in Cambodia and the dismantling of Beijing’s strict “dynamic zero-Covid” policy would appreciably help bring in more Chinese holidaymakers to the Kingdom.

“Tourism events, especially the SEA Games, which Cambodia will host in the near future, are also an important part of attracting tourists of all nationalities, especially the Chinese, to visit Cambodia,” she said, adding that of the four million international arrivals planned for 2023, at least one million are expected to be from mainland China.

On the other hand, Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan was cautiously optimistic, although he did voice confidence that effective implementation of the tourism campaign and linked initiatives would bring at the very least 70 per cent of the target number of international visitors – that is, 2.8 million.

Still, he believes that these efforts “will be a force to be reckoned with in all areas” and earn international recognition for the Cambodian tourism industry, and even acknowledged that the four-million goal is not out of the realm of possibility. goal is not out of the realm of possibility.

Cambodia welcomed nearly 2.277 million international visitors last year, representing a 65.56 per cent drop from 6.611 million in record-breaking 2019 but an increase by a factor of 11.59 over 2021’s 196,495, according to the tourism ministry.

Of the 2022 total, the majority had their purpose of visit marked as “holiday”, at 1.767 million or 77.60 per cent, followed by “business” (431,000; 18.93%) and “others” (79,049; 3.47%).

Although mainland China had accounted for a 35.73 per cent share of all international arrivals to the Kingdom in 2019, with 2.362 million, that proportion dropped to just 4.69 per cent last year at 106,875, largely seen as a result of Beijing’s “dynamic zero-Covid” policy.

In 2022, mainland China was the third largest source market, after Thailand with 853,376 (819,081 holiday; 32,659 business; 1,636 others) and Vietnam with 463,995 (345,459 holiday; 117,948 business; 588 others), which were respectively up 82.93 per cent and down 48.94 per cent from their corresponding 2019 figures.