Cambodia welcomed 6,610,592 foreign visitors last year – up 6.61 per cent from 2018’s 6.2 million, Ministry of Tourism data shows.
Chinese tourists topped the list, with 2.36 million visitors (up 16.7 per cent), Vietnamese ranked second with 908,803 (up 13.6 per cent), followed by Thais with 466,493 (up 22 per cent), Laos with 363,951 (down 14.6 per cent) and South Koreans with 254,874 (down 15.5 per cent), the data shows.
Visitors from the US numbered 248,863 (down 0.8 per cent), 207,636 tourists came from Japan (down 1.3 per cent) and 203,008 from Malaysia (up 0.9 per cent).
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said on Saturday that despite the challenges currently facing the global economy, Cambodia has maintained growth in international tourism due to its peace and political stability.
Phnom Penh received the most international tourists last year – at 4.4 million – up 22 per cent from 2018, ministry data shows.
Siem Reap received 2.2 million international tourists, down 14.9 per cent, and the coastal region received 1.2 million, up 37.3 per cent.
The northeast region – mainly known for eco-tourism – received 81,588 international tourists (up 8.6 per cent). Preah Vihear received 54,606 (down 3.5 per cent).
Last year’s 6.61 per cent growth rate in the tourism sector is relatively low compared to the last few years.
In 2017, international visitors to Cambodia numbered 5.60 million, up 11.8 per cent compared to 2016’s 5.01 million, ministry data shows. In 2018, the number of tourists in the country was 6.20 million, up 10.7 per cent.
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Chuk Chumno told The Post on Tuesday that Cambodia’s 6.61 per cent growth was strong considering global figures.
In 2018, the number of international arrivals rose five per cent from 2017 globally but grew three per cent last year from 2018. This, he said, was a positive sign for the Kingdom.
“Although the world tourism sector currently faces some challenges, the tourism sector in Cambodia is still showing good performance,” said Chumno.
He said the World Tourism Report 2019 cited the ongoing Sino-US trade conflict, the crisis in the Middle East, declining economic growth rates in major countries and climate change as reasons for the muted growth last year.
He said he did not expect a significant rebound this year for the sector. “The Ministry of Tourism has been preparing new strategies for the year to increase tourism and reel in more visitors to Cambodia.”
Pacific Asia Travel Association president Thourn Sinan said although the number of international visitors to Cambodia continues to grow, the Kingdom needs to strengthen cooperation between the authorities and the private sector and brace for the negative impact stemming from the stunted growth in the tourism sector.
“Organising international events to showcase potential [tourism sites] and attract the interest of international tourists is very important to Cambodia,” he said.
He noted that the recent outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in China will further impact tourism in the Kingdom.
Ministry data shows that there were about 11.5 million domestic tourists last year, up 2.1 per cent from 2018. Meanwhile, 2.03 million Cambodians travelled abroad, up 2.1 per cent compared to the previous year.