With tourist arrivals from China, Thailand and Vietnam coming in greater numbers than before, Cambodia is keen to develop new feeder markets in the region for growth.
Several new visitor source markets are coming onto the radar of PATA Cambodia Chapter’s (PCC), which invited tour operators to its inaugural Biz Fair held last week from September 3 to 5.
Among the emerging feeder markets PCC is targeting is Bangladesh. Sinan Thourn, PCC chairman, said: “If you look at the country, it has about three million people travelling abroad, and they are looking for new destinations. Many go to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Cambodia is overlooked and is missing out.”
Thourn added that PCC wants to attract the masses of Indonesians who travel to Thailand annually but skip neighbouring Cambodia. He said: “Outbound tourism from Indonesia is growing and a lot go to Thailand.”
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal will also be targeted in 2019. “We predict these markets will pick up. We can’t just focus on China,” added Thourn. PCC plans to organise a series of fam trips, carry out targeted marketing and build on the first Biz Fair.
Mohosin Iqbal, CEO of Amazing Tours in Bangladesh, said with Thailand ranking as Bangladesh’s second most popular outbound destination, he plans to push neighbouring Cambodia.
Said Iqbal: “Cambodia is our new destination and we have a strong and growing outbound market looking for new countries. Interest in Cambodia is already starting.”
Sariul Islam Razu, CEO of Serve International, added he will put together packages promoting Cambodia to his clients.
However, Thourn said the main challenge remains with air connectivity. “There are no direct flights from these destinations. We are only two hours away from Indonesia, for example, but with no connections we seem so far away. But we can’t wait for the flights to come to start pushing, we have to start now.”
Nuno Costa, marketing and sales director of Cambodia Airports, said they are currently working with several airlines to develop routes to new destinations. He added: “Indonesia is one of them. At this point, we are still in talks.”