Growth in Tourist Arrivals Slows to 5-Year Low

Growth in tourist arrivals slowed down last year to the lowest rate since the global financial crisis, according to preliminary figures provided by the Ministry of Tourism on Monday.

The number of visitors arriving by all modes of transport reached 4.5 million last year, up just 7 percent from 4.2 million in 2013, according to Kong Sopheareak, director of the statistics department at the Tourism Ministry.

Cambodia has been achieving an average of 13.5 percent yearly growth in tourist arrivals since 2009, when arrivals grew by only 1.7 percent.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector working group on tourism, said the industry took a knock in the early part of 2014 due to the political stalemate.

“Growth was slower than previous years because there were some obstacles like political stalemate after the general election,” Mr. Vandy said.

However, Mr. Vandy said he expects growth to pick up to about 15 percent this year.

In May, tourism officials urged the hospitality industry to ramp up its marketing efforts to attract Chinese tourists after a downturn in arrivals due to political upheaval in Thailand and anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam earlier in the year.

Luu Meng, president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, said despite the importance of the Chinese market—which airlines have been increasingly tapping into—Cambodia also needs to focus on securing direct flights from other countries as well as promoting destinations outside Angkor Wat.

“We want people to not just come for two nights, but we want them to stay for 10 nights and go to places like Sihanoukville, Battambang and Koh Rong, ” Mr. Meng said. “There’s not enough information on the different destinations.”

In the first 11 months of 2014, Vietnam contributed the largest share of tourists, with 803,591 visitors, or 20.1 percent of total arrivals, according to Tourism Ministry figures. The second-largest number of tourists came from China, the fastest growing market, with a 21.7 percent year-on-year increase.

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