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Cambodia capitalizes on tourism surge

Written by David Pingree

Asia Atlantic announced last week in a statement that it will provide direct flights between Japan and Cambodia beginning September 2.

According to The Phnom Penh Post, Asia Atlantic will offer three non-stop flights a week between Tokyo‘s Narita International Airport and Phnom Penh, bringing the Thai airliner’s Cambodia service number to 24.

Asia Atlantic and other investors in South East Asia see Cambodia and other frontier markets as the next promising fields. The opening of the ASEAN of Economic Community this year is also expected to encourage foreign investments in tourism and other sectors across frontier markets, The Nation reported.

The Cambodian government launched its airport redevelopment project, which will double the capacity of the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports to 5 million-traveller capacity per year. Approximately, USD 80 million will be used for the expansion in Phnom Penh, and another USD 100 million for Siem Reap. The renovations are expected to be finished by the end of next year or in the beginning of 2016, Khek Norinda, communications director of Phnom Penh International Airport, told The Phnom Penh Post.

According to CBRE Cambodia’s most recent MarketView report, the country foresees a surge in tourism in the near future. The Ministry of Tourism predicts a higher hotel occupation rate as well longer durations of trips. Revenue per Available Room in Phnom Penh’s four and five star hotels currently ranges between USD 25 to USD 100, according to TTR Weekly.

Statistics released from Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism Information Department were largely positive, with the industry growing 2.8% in the month of May alone. Between January and May, Cambodia hosted more than 1.9 million international travellers, a 6.1% improvement from the same period a year prior. Furthermore, the ministry speculates that it will ultimately receive a total of 4.7 million visitors by the end of 2014, a 12% rise from 2013.

Cambodia’s boost in tourism is attributed to the expansion of domestic air travel and new hotel chains sprouting up along the country’s underdeveloped coast. CNN recently published an article on its website highlighting seven of the Cambodia’s famous island vacation spots, including Koh Rong and Koh Thmei.

However, Cambodia will require more investment in its infrastructure and hospitality education sectors if it plans to maintain tourism growth in the long run, according to Ang Kim Eang, president of The Cambodia Association of Travel Agents.

Reports also said that the Asia-Pacific region accounted for the biggest share of global tourism with 245,437 visits last year, an 81.7% share compared to other regions. Tourist trips to the region grew by 3.4% over the past year.

–Edited by Kristine Diaz

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