Cambodia’s reportedly strong arrivals fail to impact tourism businesses

Official figures indicate Cambodia is in recovery mode, with the nation welcoming 3.03 million international visitors in the first seven months of 2023 – however, tourism players on the ground paint a different picture.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, arrivals mark a 308 per cent year-on-year increase, with Thailand topping the table, followed by Vietnam. Laos was fourth, while land and waterway arrivals accounted for 64.9 per cent of the total.

While Cambodia reported 3.03 million international visitors in the first seven months of 2023, only 498,513 visited the Angkor Wat heritage complex (pictured)

“Looking at the tourism figures, people working in travel should be happy,” said Steve Lidgey, general manager of Travel Asia a la Carte. “However, the reality on the ground shows many empty hotels, restaurants failing, and guides without work as there are few visitors and a very low low season.”

Of all the captured arrivals, only 498,513 visited Angkor Wat, according to figures from Angkor Enterprise. This has caused inbound agents to believe that the majority of the 3.03 million arrivals are people crossing the border for daily trade or to gamble in border casinos but ticking the “tourist” box.

“I have yet to see coach-loads of Laotian tourists checking in at Siem Reap hotels,” Lidgey remarked, adding while his FIT figures for the last high season were up on pre-pandemic numbers, GIT is down, and corporate groups are “extremely quiet”.

Sinan Thourn, CEO of B2B Cambodia (Travel/Tours) and chairman of PATA Cambodia Chapter, said while recovery on paper is a positive sign, it has yet to translate on the ground. He told TTG Asia that the global economic crisis and high airfares remain barriers for travel.

Additionally, Vannary San, owner of House Boutique Eco Hotel in Phnom Penh, noted that, in fact, bookings for the last few months have dropped “very badly”. “We are still very much in recovery,” she said, adding that she is continuing to foot the expenses for essential renovations to bring the property up to pre-pandemic standards.

Sponsored Post