Cambodia tourism expands
PHNOM PENH, 23 April 2014: Cambodia’s Council of Ministers says the country earned US$2.5 billion in tourism related revenue in 2013 on more than 4 million tourist arrivals.
The council office head, Sok An, told local media that foreign tourist arrivals to Cambodia have been steadily increasing from just 120,000 in 1993 to more than 4.2 million in 2013.
“Most of those visitors travelled to Cambodia’s cultural heritage sites such as Angkor Wat,” he said.
The Cambodian government hopes to attract 6.5 million foreign tourists by 2018 and earn US$4 billion in income from tourism, providing jobs for 650,000 people.
Angkor Wat is the main attraction which is a matter of concern as tourists crowd the complex and cause wear and tear damage to the ancient monuments.
Most of the revenue from tourism remains in the pockets of the country’s so-called elite and wealthy resident in Phnom Penh as well as government officials. Few financial benefits trickle down to residents or villagers of Siem Reap province other than the revenue from the sale of handicrafts and street-side food.
Some 71,100 Chinese visited the 12th century temple during January to February this year, up 10.5% compared with the same period last year, said Chhoeuy Chhorn, administration chief of the tourism department in Siem Reap province, where the Angkor Wat Historical Park is located.
“China is the second largest source of tourists to the World Heritage site after South Korea,” he said, adding that last year, Angkor Wat was visited by about 266,500 Chinese tourists, up 50% year-on-year.
Last December, Air China began scheduled flights between Beijing and Cambodia’s Siem Reap and Cambodia’s national flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air launched flights to Shanghai.