Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry: Arrivals of foreign tourists soar in ‘23

Ministry: Arrivals of foreign tourists soar in ‘23

Local and international tourists visit Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province.
Local and international tourists visit Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province. Hong Menea

Ministry: Arrivals of foreign tourists soar in ‘23

The Ministry of Tourism reported a surge in foreign tourist arrivals in Cambodia for the first eight months of 2023. Over 3.5 million international visitors were recorded, marking a 250.8 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. A significant 84.7 per cent of these travellers originated from the Asia Pacific region.

Despite this growth, the current numbers still fall short by 19.7 per cent when compared to peak tourist arrivals in 2019. In a breakdown of the 2023 figures, European and American visitors made up 10.4 and 4.6 per cent of the arrivals, up 288.1 and 210.5 per cent, respectively. The mode of arrivals varied with 64.3 per cent arriving by land, 34.7 per cent by air and a mere 1.1 per cent via inland waterways.

Thailand heads the chart as the top tourist source with 1,186,999 visitors. Vietnam, China and Laos followed, with 641,758, 364,844 and 212,984 visitors respectively.

Thiem Thuong, president of the Cambodia Chinese Tour Guide Association (CCTGA), told The Post that while the ongoing Covid-19 crisis isn’t currently hampering tourism, Siem Reap’s foreign footfall remains below pre-2020 numbers. Presently, the majority of those visiting Siem Reap’s traditional sites are locals.

“Even though Cambodia’s borders have been reopened for over a year, we’re still seeing fewer foreign guests than we did pre-pandemic. We hope to welcome more in the near future,” he said.

Khieu Thy, president of the Angkor Tourist Guide Association, noted an increase in visitors to Siem Reap’s temples since the onset of 2023.

“Tourism is intrinsically linked with the economy and politics. While the numbers from distant countries have been low, we expect a change by the end of the year as the season picks up,” Thy said.

He remained optimistic, asserting that the private sector is well-prepared for an influx of visitors.

“The end of the year will provide a clearer picture of the situation,” Thy added.

Hor Sarun, secretary of state at the ministry, remains hopeful about the Kingdom’s tourism future.

Addressing a workshop on “Good Hospitality, Safe Tourism” in Svay Rieng Province on August 14, he predicted that by the end of 2025 or early 2026, the country could return to its pre-pandemic numbers, aiming for around 7 million guests.

For context, 2019 saw the highest number of international visitors in Cambodia at 6,610,592, a 6.6 per cent increase from 2018. The three bordering nations, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, contributed significantly to these figures.

In contrast, 2022 saw only 2.28 million international visitors, although it was still an impressive increase of 1,059 per cent over 2021. Tourists from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos alone reached 1,409,980 last year.


  • Tensions high ahead of historic Kun Khmer match up

    The long-awaited November 5 matchup between Kun Khmer legend Prum Samnang and Myanmar-Canadian boxer Dave Leduc has become the most anticipated fight of the year. The Wurkz Sena Kun Khmer promotion, which will be held at the Town Arena at Chip Mong 271 Megamall, will see six

  • Manet: Cambodia safe for travel

    Prime Minister Hun Manet acknowledged that Cambodia and China have cooperated to tackle internet scamming, fraud and other cross border crimes, but insisted that the “Kingdom of Wonders” is completely peaceful and safe. He welcomed tourists to come and explore its rich heritage. During a

  • UNESCO formally list Battambang gastronomy

    Battambang, renowned for its cultural heritage, has achieved a significant milestone as the first Cambodian municipality to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The UCCN unites nearly 300 cities prioritising creativity and cultural industries in local development plans and international cooperation. On World Cities Day,

  • Cambodia pivots to solar, wind energy

    Cambodia is planning a move towards solar and wind energy to meet its rising power demands, according to Minister of Mines and Energy Keo Rottanak. On the sidelines of the Singapore International Energy Week event held recently, Rottanak emphasised the urgency of diversifying Cambodia’s

  • Angkor causeway symbol of Cambodia-Japan ties

    In a historic moment marking another milestone in the 70-year-long diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Japan, King Norodom Sihamoni celebrated the formal inauguration of a causeway located to the west of the world-renowned Angkor Wat. While presiding over the November 4 ceremony, the King emphasised the

  • Manet calls for Cambodia’s railways to get back on track

    Prime Minister Hun Manet has instructed the relevant authorities to expedite studies into upgrades to the Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk railway line. He suggested that the maximum speed on the line should be increased to 80km/h, in order to expedite the transportation of