The Ministry of Tourism recently organised a training workshop for evaluators of the “China Ready” assessment system. The system will allow the Cambodian tourism industry to certify the quality of tourism services so it is ready to receive Chinese tourists this year.

Neb Samouth, managing director of the Cambodian Tourism Association and president of the China Ready Accreditation System Committee, said the reduction of travel barriers – along with the excellent pandemic management – has contributed to the growth of domestic tourism and the arrival of international visitors.

“The resumption of flights from the Chinese market to Cambodia in January was also a positive sign of the recovery of the Kingdom’s tourism sector,” he added.

“The main purpose of this workshop is make people aware of the China Ready system, so all stakeholders can participate in strengthening the quality of Chinese tourism services. The participation of the 25 capital-provincial tourism departments and ministry officials will encourage all tourism operators to be ready to welcome visitors from China,” he continued.

Samouth added all participants should pay close attention to the speakers, especially regarding the China Ready strategy book for Cambodia tourism, the Minimum Assessment Standards and the seven criteria of the system.

The tourism association claimed that the number of arrivals from China has increased significantly although the issue of airfares and direct flights remains an issue. It expects the number of Chinese visitors to continue to grow.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy said more arrivals had been recorded since January, with the majority of Chinese tourists visiting Phnom Penh and coastal Sihanoukville.

“The current growth has not yet seen a return to pre-pandemic levels, but the association expects more Chinese tourists to travel to Cambodia in the near future,” he added.

On February 7, Phnom Penh International Airport welcomed a flight from Beijing carrying 125 Chinese passengers including Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian.

This arrival was made possible after the Chinese government allowed tour companies nationwide – which offer all-inclusive tour packages including airfares and hotels – to re-open their operations on February 6.

“After the arrival of the first Chinese tourists, we aim to attract from 800,000 to 1 million Chinese tourists by the end of the year,” said tourism minister Thong Khon.

He called on tourism-related businesses and workers to follow existing principles and welcome the new guests warmly, as China is seen as a very important market.

Khon also expressed optimism that Chinese tourism to Cambodia will increase steadily from March 2023.

In January, Cambodia welcomed about 400,000 international tourists, including around 25,000 Chinese, an increase of 901 per cent compared to the same period in 2022. In the same month, a total of 1,648 flights landed in Cambodia, 1,178 of them at Phnom Penh International Airport.