Cambodia eyes lucrative European, Chinese tourist trade
The home to the famous Angkor Wat ruins hopes to seek increase direct flights between EU nations to boost tourism industry.21 April 2008
PHNOM PENH - Cambodia will seek to increase direct flights between China and European Union (EU) nations to boost its booming tourism industry, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Monday.
His comments came as Cambodia announced a 17 percent increase in tourist arrivals at about 400,000 during the first two months of 2008.
Tourism is a mainstay of the economy.
"Cambodia needs more flights from the big cities in southern China and they need to be daily," he said by telephone. "The EU is also a market that is under tapped due to a lack of direct flights."
"By 2020 an estimated 100 million Chinese are expected to travel the world. If we can snare just 5 percent, we've got 5 million Chinese tourists," Thong Khon said.
Siem Reap International Airport, 300 kilometres north of the capital and the gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex, currently accommodates 37 international flights per day, he said.
But the private French-Malaysian concession company Société Concessionnaire de l'Aéroport managing the airport has announced expansion plans, and the government is keen to capitalise.
Phnom Penh International Airport handles about 30 international flights a day, and the Sihanoukville airport, 240 kilometres from the capital which services the south-western beach resorts is also being set for major expansion.
"The EU is also a place with great tourism potential. At present we have direct charter flights from Finland and Italy, but we would like to see that grow as 60 per cent of our tourists arrive by air," he said.
"To attract more tourists, we have to put Cambodia on the map."
[dpa / Expatica]