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Tourist Arrivals Continue to Rise, Buoyed by Chinese Tourists

Tourists visit the Ta Prohm temple complex in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, March 16, 2019.

Cambodian Tourism Ministry statistics showed an increase in international tourists arriving in the country for the first nine months of the year, again bolstered by Chinese tourist arrivals in the Kingdom.

The statistics show that nearly 4.8 million tourists arrived in the country from January to September, registering a 10 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Around 1.8 million Chinese tourists arrived in the first nine months of the year, surpassing the 1.44 million who travelled to the Cambodia for 2018.

Kong Sopheareak, head of Department of Statistics of the Ministry of Tourism, said the tourist numbers were encouraging and the ministry hoped that it would reach 6.8 million by the end of the year.

Conversely, European tourists saw a small six percent drop in arrivals since January, with Kong Sopheareak saying that there was no correlation between Chinese and European tourist numbers.

“I think that the rise of Chinese tourists does not make the number of European tourists decrease,” he said. “I don't think that's right.”

However, Chhay Sivlin, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), felt there was a link between Chinese and European tourist arrivals. She said European tourists were staying away from Cambodia because of the overcrowding caused by the growing number of Chinese travelers.

“The damage to tourism infrastructure and roads and the rise of Chinese tourists has caused commotion at some tourist attractions,” she said.

She said providing better infrastructure could help attract a wider array of tourists, and benefitting the sector as a whole.

Tourism is one of the key drivers of Cambodia’s economy. The number of international tourists in 2018 was roughly 6.2 million, which was a 12 percent increase from the 5.6 million foreign travelers in 2017.