About 49 per cent of international visitors to Cambodia cite Angkor Wat as a significant motive for their trip, while 62 per cent praise the warmth and hospitality received from locals during their travels, a new research study has found.

These rates were revealed in a Ministry of Tourism announcement on the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign – with the slogan “Every day is a Wonder” – dated March 28.

“Cambodia is chock full of wonders, which combine to bring about ‘Cambodia: A Kingdom of Wonder’. Every tourist’s travels within Cambodia, every single day of the week, is special and comes with a unique experience,” it said, adding that as Covid-19 waned international tourism has picked up across ASEAN, Asia and the world.

Hence, the “Kingdom of Wonder” is ready to share its “wonders” with any sightseer, offering a plethora of outstanding travel destinations characterised by four main elements: culture and heritage; Khmer identity; ecotourism; and coastal tourism.

The ministry also mentioned that work is underway to better present Cambodia’s offerings and explain their symbolisms as well as meanings and connotations: such as Angkor Wat and its design, sculptures, carvings and brownish hue, as well as the equinox sunrises that align with its central spire – also called Bakan tower.

Tourism ministry permanent secretary of state Tith Chantha said that in connection with “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign, 22 international and national events are scheduled for this year, along with additional local ones as well as related community outreach and public relations initiatives.

“Positioning the Cambodian tourism market in the regional and global context after the Covid-19 crisis is strategically important to carry out an effective outreach campaign as well as to create branding and attractive short slogans that are easy for tourists to remember,” he said.

Chantha called on ministries, public institutions, the private sector and other stakeholders to promote the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign and use the logo at tourism-linked institutions and destinations.

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 tourism ministry and subordinate agencies.

Cambodia welcomed nearly 2.277 million international visitors in 2022, marking a 65.56 per cent fall from the all-time high of 6.611 million in 2019, but an increase by a factor of 11.59 on 2021, according to the ministry.

Of the total international visitors, 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%). Most arrived by land at 1.467 million or 64.44 per cent, which was down 28.42 per cent from 2019, followed by air (791,603; 34.77%; down 82.03%) and waterways (17,866; 0.78%; down 88.61%).

Although mainland China had accounted for a 35.73 per cent share of all international arrivals to the Kingdom in 2019, that proportion fell to just 4.69 per cent last year at 106,875 (28,837 holiday; 77,595 business; 443 others), largely seen as a result of Beijing’s “dynamic zero-Covid” policy.

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.

Interestingly, Indonesians too visited the Kingdom in greater numbers, at 75,653 (20,328 holiday; 55,107 business; 218 others) last year versus 66,804 (38,530 holiday; 26,410 business; 1,864 others) in 2019.