Tourist Arrivals Continue To Grow

2007 was another banner growth year for Cambodian tourism. According to statistics recently released by the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, there was an increase of 18.5% in international arrivals versus 2006. The growth in revenue from tourism was even more spectacular – 33% – indicating that spending per person is on the rise. My guess is that this could be due to a continued shift in the mix of ‘backpacker’ tourists and more upmarket travelers as well the prevalence of more upmarket spending opportunities, in particular more expensive hotels and restaurants as well as higher priced organized tours.

A few other salient stats:

  • “55% visited the Siem Reap Angkor Complex and 45% visited Phnom Penh and other destinations.”
  • “The Republic of Korea was the major source market for Cambodia and the next most important source was Japan, USA, Vietnam, China, Taiwan(China), Thailand, France, United Kingdom and Malaysia.”
  • 64% arrived by air and the rest arrived by land or water.

The total value of tourism reached $1.3 billion dollars which would account still for only 4% of Cambodia’s GDP based on the most recent GDP figures available from 2005. That there is still plenty of room to grow is evidenced in the Ministry of Tourism’s prediction that in 2015 there could be 5 million arrivals versus 2 million in 2007.

With places like Sihanoukville still in its infancy as a tourist destination and given my experience, and that of many people I know, that nearly every returning Cambodian tourist spreads his or her’s infectious enthusiasm, this growth path should be easily attainable if not exceeded.

The challenge of course will be to balance this growing tourism with environmental and preservation needs and perhaps more importantly to assure that as much of the tourist revenue as possible benefits the indigenous population versus the growing number of foreign investors in the tourism infrastructure.

(If you are planning a trip to Angkor Wat please check out Savuth’s tuk tuk transportation services at

~ by Leonard on July 22, 2008.

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