Cambodian PM acknowledges hardship for tourism operators, but confident in rebound

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's tourism sector has experienced significant growth in the past decade, led by former Prime Minister Hun Sen. However, the sector has faced challenges in recent years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout.

In a speech on World Tourism Day 2023 yesterday, Cambodia's new Prime Minister acknowledged the difficulties faced by tourism operators. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had “negatively and seriously affected socio-economic development around the world,” and that the tourism sector had been “severely affected.”

Despite these challenges, the Prime Minister is confident that tourism will rebound in 2023. He pointed to the fact that Cambodia had already received 3.5 million international tourists in the first eight months of the year, an increase of 50.8% compared to the same period in 2022.

Domestic tourism has also seen a strong recovery, with 12.38 million visitors recorded in the first eight months of 2023, an increase of 62.5% over the same period in 2022.

The Prime Minister also mentioned the national campaign “Visit Cambodia Year 2023,” which is expected to attract a total of 5 million international tourists in 2023, a 120% increase over the previous year. He also expressed confidence that Cambodia can attract 8 million international tourists by 2028.

A day earlier, In a recent keynote address at the Tourism Forum, ‘Where is Cambodia's Tourism Industry Heading?', organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AmCham), Minister of Tourism Sok Soken highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

He noted that the government is working on a new tourism strategy that will involve greater engagement with stakeholders across the sector.

“We will start to see the implementation in the next month or two months,” Soken said. “We have a government-private sector forum on the 13th of November, and our main activities from here on end will be the collaboration to ensure the numerous issues that have been discussed are addressed so that the government will have time to respond.”

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