Cambodian ministry sees 4.5 million tourists in 2023

Cambodia received more than 2.16 million international visitors during the first five months of the year, representing 75 per cent of numbers recorded in the same period in 2019.

Van Socheata

Van Socheata

The Phnom Penh Post


Tourism minister Thong Khon addresses the conference, held in Phnom Penh on June 21. MINISTRY OF TOURISM

June 22, 2023

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia received more than 2.16 million international visitors during the first five months of the year, representing 75 per cent of numbers recorded in the same period of the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said the ministry hopes to see the number of international guests top 4.5 million for the entire year.

Khon was addressing the June 21 opening ceremony of a two-day conference to review the ministry’s working outcomes and plan the post-pandemic recovery of the tourism sector.

“We expect to receive approximately 4.5 million international tourists and about 16 million domestic tourists for the whole year of 2023, which are similar figures to those forecast in our roadmap,” he said.

He described 2023 as a special year for Cambodia, as it had waited 64 years to host the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, with both having been successfully concluded.

“These events made a significant contribution to strengthening Cambodia’s prestigious reputation as a small country with a big heart and an attractive tourist destination. They also boosted the flow of tourists, both domestic and foreign. We hope that the success of these historic events will promote a positive image of the Kingdom as an attractive tourist destination, both now and in the future,” he added.

Tith Chantha, the ministry’s standing secretary of state, gave a presentation on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the tourism sector, and explained to the assembled guests how its effects had been felt throughout the economy, as well as society.

“The ministry created a central monitoring body to observe the tourism situation in Cambodia, and has prepared indicators to evaluate the implementation of policies which aim to promote research and innovation in the sector,” he said.

“Some of the measures that were implemented in 2022 and the first half of this year include the exemption of all types of monthly taxes, the freezing of debt up to the end of 2019, waivers for 2022 penalties, and income tax exemptions for 2022 for hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses,” he added.

He also discussed several ongoing measures, including the creation of a capacity development programme, co-financing projects that will restore and promote tourism growth, implementing credit guarantees and loans to 347 tourism-related businesses, worth more than $53.55 million.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin said on June 21 that the ministry has been working hard to boost post-pandemic tourism growth. He noted that the ministry and the private sector are preparing a new draft of the National Strategic Plan for Tourism Development 2023-35.

“We expect that the plan will support the development of tourism in Cambodia in a high-quality, sustainable and inclusive manner. We predict that the Kingdom will become an attractive tourist destination at the regional and global levels, and think our plan will provide a competitive foundation for the industry,” he added.

Ministry secretary of state Neb Samouth described the plan during a recent meeting.

“The framework of the plan pivots around enhancing Cambodia’s tourism sector, infusing quality, sustainability, responsibility and inclusiveness for a resilient future,” he said.

“It features four chapters and 13 sections, detailing three strategic goals and 10 key strategies to make Cambodia a globally attractive tourist destination,” he added.

Once modifications are made in line with all relevant inputs, the draft will be presented to the National Committee for Tourism Development for final review and decision. It will then proceed to a Council of Ministers’ plenary session.

According to the ministry, in 2022, more than 2.2 million international tourists visited Cambodia, an increase of 1,059 per cent compared to 2021. Last year also saw a large increase in domestic tourism, with almost twice as many travelling than in 2021. The 13.9 million domestic tourists logged in 2022 exceeded the pre-pandemic figures.

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