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2008 Tourism Numbers Rise, But Disappoint

The number of visitors to Cambodia in 2008 surpassed 2007, but officials said Monday less people than hoped had found their way to the kingdom.

The global financial crisis and political unrest in Thailand had both contributed to the lower-than-expected figures, officials said.

In 2008, more than 2.1 million foreign visitors came to Cambodia, a 6 percent rise over the previous year that was about 10 percent lower than expected, Kong Sopheareak, head of the statistics department at the Ministry of Tourism, said Monday.

"First, the global financial crisis, and another thing was the political crisis in Thailand, both of which affected us," he said.

More than a third of all tourists coming to Cambodia travel through Thailand, while another third come through Vietnam and about 3 percent come through Laos, he said. The rest arrive from other countries, he said.

About 60 percent of tourists come by plane, he continued, and about 4 percent are "same day" visitors.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Monday the ministry was pushing for even more visitors in 2009, including promoting the country as an affordable destination for regional travelers.