As 2023 approaches, officials remain positive that tourism will rebound, with China expected to be the top visiting nation as pandemic restrictions slowly start to ease.
Officials predict the Kingdom will welcome about three million international tourists in 2023, with Thailand and Vietnam also projected to be among the top international arrivals.
“Tourism in ASEAN is very important. It would be good if China removed the barrier or changed the policy of zero-covid next year, we expect more Chinese tourists to come, and, especially, we will host the SEA Games and Para Games,” Ang Sovanroth, Deputy Director of Tourism Development of the Ministry of Tourism, told Kiripost.
“It will be an important moment for boosting the arrival of international tourists. We estimate that more than three million international tourists will arrive in Cambodia in 2023,” Sovanroth added.
Cambodia will host the Southeast Asian Games 2023 and ASEAN Para Games 2023 for the first time from May 5 to 17 and June 3 to 9, respectively.
President of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA), Chhay Sivlin, said that for 2023, there will be an increase in tourists amid strong momentum of promoting new flights and business recovery.
She said new products and services have been promoted by both private and public sectors and that recovery has already been seen in many industries in Cambodia, especially tourism, as only 50 percent of businesses have re-opened.
“Other services have not fully returned, as of now, 50 percent of them have returned but other services have not returned yet,” Sivlin told Kiripost.
She said that businesses have also received some funding from the Ministry of Economy and Finance to help recover from the impact of Covid-19, so they can fully return to operations.
Sivlin added that the tourism association also has plans and activities next year to attract Indian tourists, with calls for direct flights as India is the largest market after China.
She added that tourism operators from all ASEAN countries will also be invited to visit Cambodia to demonstrate their services, as part of further enhancing cooperation.
Finding tourism professionals
Sivlin said Cambodia should focus on promoting tourism to become more prominent in the training of more human resources.
Three years ago, a lot of tourism experts left the sector and the country is currently facing the challenge of luring them back or finding replacements as the industry rebounds.
The improvement of existing tourism services and the creation of new products are also needed, Sivlin said.
“We see in neighboring countries, when the country launches, tourism products increase. In addition, local production, such as souvenirs to be sold to tourists, must be encouraged, as well as agriculture and the supply of food.”
Sovanroth, of the tourism ministry, said that 2022 saw improvements in arrivals compared with 2021, after the government reopened the country in November 2021. The top arrivals this year have been from Thailand followed by Vietnam.
However, Sovanroth added that some factors have caused the recovery to slow down due to vaccinations, the impact from new Covid cases and other diseases, inflation, and economic hardships.
In the first 11 months of 2022, Cambodia welcomed 1.9 million international tourists, an increase of 107.2 percent. Domestic tourists stood at more than 11.6 million, while foreigners living in Cambodia amounted to 1.6 million.
Cambodia received 720,203 tourists from Thailand, an increase of 868.7 percent; 401,193 Vietnamese; and 90,648 Chinese, according to the Ministry of Tourism report.