A series of measures to plant the Cambodian coastal resort of Sihanoukville on the map as one of the region’s premier beach resort are paying off.
Tourism officials hope beautification projects to clear up the beaches, plans to double the airport’s capacity to 500,000 passengers per year and efforts to secure more international flights will continue to drive visitors to the destination.
Mick Spencer, owner of ANA Travel & Tours, said the development is mostly being driven by the Chinese, with Sihanoukville being heavily marketed in China.
Several projects are also underway to build casino complexes in the destination.
“The airport expansion is to accommodate an anticipated influx of casino junket Chinese mainlanders,” Spencer said, adding the number of visitors from Europe has remained stable during the last few years.
A marketing initiative introduced in 2016 that gives cash incentives to airlines using Sihanoukville’s airport for international flights has also been renewed for another year.
Last January, Cambodia Airports started offering airlines $10 per passenger – with a maximum of $1,000 per flight – on international scheduled flights departing from Sihanouk International Airport.
Khek Norinda, Cambodia Airports spokesman, said: “This has proved successful in attracting new airlines to Sihanoukville and increased the number of visitors.”
He added passengers landing at the airport increased by 65 percent in 2016.
Bun Socheat, manager of Mekong Travels, said: “These efforts and general development in the area are paying off and will help increase Sihanoukville’s popularity in the future.”