Siem Reap’s ranking among the top five trending tourism destinations globally in TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice awards has given industry players confidence this year will bring a strong sector rebound.
Based on reviews on the popular online portal, Siem Reap was crowned the fourth most popular tourist destination in the world. It joins the Southeast Asian nations of Thailand and Vietnam in the top 10 rankings.
Nick Ray, product director of Hanuman Travel and CamDMC consultant, said the ranking has instilled confidence that long-haul tourism will return to the Kingdom this year. “Siem Reap has made it into the trending destinations category and that’s important because it refers to where people are searching to visit this year. That’s quite significant,” he said.
As borders started to reopen and pandemic restrictions eased globally, Ray said the travel industry predicted the trend for travel rebound would see people vacation locally first before venturing on long-haul trips.
“There are several Southeast Asian countries on that list and this suggests the travel industry was right. People have gone on holiday within the UK, US, Europe or wherever and now they’re ready to foray further,” he added.
“This is promising as Cambodia’s recovery has been slower than expected. China only reopened recently and we’ve also not seen so many long-haul travellers return yet, and we’re now heading into low season.”
However, Ray remains confident that long-haul visitors will return in Q42023. “While I don’t expect it to be as much as pre-covid, I’m confident we will see a strong return of long-haul visitors in 2023’s high season.”
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In the awards’ trending destinations category, Cuba stole the top spot, followed by Hoi An in Vietnam, Mauritius, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, Fes in Morocco, Baku in Azerbaijan, Kathmandu in Nepal, and Krakow in Poland.
“We saw a resurgence of travel demand in 2022, and the outlook for this year is bright,” said Sarah Firshein, TripAdvisor’s head of editorial. “Long-haul trips have made a comeback, and we are seeing a lot of Americans excited to plan trips to Asia and the Pacific region for the first time in several years.”
Sinan Thourn, CEO of B2B Cambodia Travel and chairman of PATA Cambodia, welcomed Siem Reap’s latest accolade for bringing “benefits to the whole of tourism in Cambodia”. However, he said the country’s tourism industry must not rest on its laurels.
“The tourism industry needs to do a lot of things, especially in terms of digital marketing and destination marketing,” he said. “Siem Reap being named in the top five trending destinations is not enough in itself because Cambodia not only has Siem Reap, it has much more. We have to work hard on this.”
Figures released by the Ministry of Tourism reveal that during Lunar New Year, more than 105,400 visitors celebrated in Siem Reap. Of that, more than 15,4000 were foreigners.