Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has expressed optimism that the successful hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games will serve to promote the Kingdom as a popular tourist destination and boost the number of foreign guests it receives in the future.

He expected that Cambodia will see over four million international visitors this year, after receiving about 1.2 million visitors in the first quarter of this year.

As a vice-chairman of the Cambodia SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), he said that Cambodia hoped to see a return to pre-Covid-19 levels very soon.

He added that the 2023 Sangkran Water Festival event had attracted a great many visitors, and expected the games to attract even more foreign and domestic guests.

“We consider the SEA Games an important occasion that will attract foreign visitors to Cambodia. Through this event, we will receive 500,000 foreign tourists, so we are confident that we see that number climb to over four million by the end of the year,” he explained.

The increased number of tourists in the first quarter of this year forced the minister to re-evaluate predictions of when pre-pandemic numbers would be observed again.

He said the reassessment came following the abatement of Covid-19 cases, combined with the reopening of socio-economic activities many of the world’s major economies, most notably China, a large source of tourists to the Kingdom.

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh, who also heads CAMSOC, noted that Cambodia had long earmarked nearly $120 million to host the sporting events.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of IMCT Co Ltd and the Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter (PATACC), hailed Thong Khon’s comments, and noted that the games were an excellent way to promote the Kingdom to the world.

“The SEA Games will make a very significant contribution to promoting Cambodia’s prestige to the world, if they go as smoothly as expected. What is important is that we do a great job, following a 64-year wait,” he said.

“We broke a record. Our SEA Games are being more widely promoted by the global media than many others have been. Major international media outlets are talking about Cambodia,” he added.

CAMSOC said that over 12,000 international sports delegates will attend the games, with many of them already in Cambodia.