The Cambodia Hotel Association (CHA) and Chinese-owned Lanmei Airlines (Cambodia) Co Ltd have joined hands in a bid to attract more regional tourists as well as to deliver efficient and cost-effective supply-chain linkages for some of the Kingdom’s lodging facilities.
To this end, CHA and Lanmei Airlines on June 2 entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) centred on the Lanton Cloud app developed by Lanton Cloud Service Technology Co Ltd, another member of the Lanmei Aviation Group headed by Li Kun.
At the signing ceremony, CHA president Din Somethearith said the partnership would offer hoteliers a new way to connect with potential guests once the hotel-booking feature is formally launched, tentatively by end-June.
That feature is slated to be rolled out on June 29, noted Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency, citing Li, Lanmei Airlines chairman and CEO.
“As Lanmei Airlines expands and adds more flights, this will help our tourism industry rebound quickly, by attracting more Chinese and regional visitors in particular,” Somethearith said, inviting CHA members to join and potentially improve their occupancy rates.
He remarked that mainland Chinese tourists as well as Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and other ASEAN travellers have increased considerably since the government moved to allow the full resumption of socio-economic activity – in November 2021.
For reference, the Ministry of Tourism reported that mainland China and ASEAN (excluding Timor-Leste) respectively accounted for 2,361,849 and 2,228,185 of Cambodia’s 6,610,592 international visitors in 2019, before the Covid-19 crisis took over.
Ministry statistics show that the number of mainland Chinese visitors to the Kingdom clocked in at 53,230 in March 2023, up 20.44 times against November 2021, compared to: Thai (149,291; up 33.62x), Vietnamese (76,331; up 16.13x), Indonesian (10,639; up 7.91x), ASEAN (272,933; up 23.54x) and total (454,093; up 23.98x).
The Ministry of Commerce’s business registry notes that Lanmei Airlines was incorporated on March 7, 2016 and is based in Phnom Penh. The registry lists a “postal registered office address” in Guangzhou, China for Li, the company’s chairman.
Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan believes that the collaboration and new hotel booking option will tangibly support recovery in the tourism industry.
“Through this partnership, travellers who fly with Lanmei Airlines will have a simple option for finding quality lodging in Cambodia: through their platform,” he commented to The Post.
On January 6, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon declared to local media that Cambodia is “ready” to welcome back mainland Chinese visitors, estimating that there will be roughly “one million” overall in 2023 – compared to the 106,875 that the tourism ministry recorded for 2022.
Additionally, between 3.5 and four million international visitors are anticipated this year, the minister said at the time.
To reach these provisional targets, more roads and entertainment venues have been built with both public and private contributions, he said. “We have clear plans and programmes” prepared to accommodate Chinese tourists, Khon added.
The tourism ministry reported that Cambodia received 2,276,626 international visitors in 2022, marking a 65.56 per cent fall from the all-time high of 6,610,592 in 2019, but an 11.59-fold increase against 2021. Of the total, 791,603 (34.8%) arrived via air, compared to 4,403,995 (66.62%) in 2019.
In the first quarter of 2023, a total of 481,582 international visitors flew into Cambodia, a 5.5-fold year-on-year increase from 86,976, but still at 37.07 per cent of the 1,299,122 registered during the equivalent three-month period in 2019.
Air arrivals accounted for 37.29 per cent of the Kingdom’s 1,291,539 total international visitors for the January-March period. This total was up 709.51 per cent from 159,546 in the year-ago period, but down 31.22 per cent from 1,877,853 in the corresponding period of 2019.
By comparison, 792,432 (61.36%) and 17,525 (1.36%) of the foreign visitors during the three-month period entered overland or via waterways, respectively.
Historical data from 2004-2019 indicate that the first quarter accounted for an average of 27.6092 per cent of the total number of international visitors for the entire year, giving a rough estimate of 4.678 million for the full-year 2023 figure, which is higher than the ministry’s forecast of four million.
It is worth mentioning that none of the predicted gains from the post-Covid recovery, “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign, or Southeast Asian (SEA) Games or related events slated for May or June are taken into account in this assessment.
A visitor in the context of these statistics is a person travelling to the Kingdom, “staying at least overnight and not exceeding a specific period for leisure, recreation, business and other legal tourism purposes; and not relevant to the purpose of permanent residence or any remunerated activities”, as defined by the ministry.