Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tourism sector explores options to lure wealthier cruise demographic

Tourism sector explores options to lure wealthier cruise demographic

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A focus on cruises would be the most efficient way to increase the profitability and attractiveness of Cambodia’s tourism sector overall, says Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin. FRESH NEWS

Tourism sector explores options to lure wealthier cruise demographic

Prominent members of Cambodia’s tourism sector have sought assistance from the government and institutions to investigate new strategies to attract increased cruise ship berthing in Preah Sihanouk and capitalise on the large spending potential of the notably wealthier passenger demographic.

During a virtual meeting between the Ministry of Tourism and private sector representatives to discuss the coastal province’s tourism market sources on February 28, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin said that it is necessary to study and develop more tourism strategies for the country’s coastline in order to attract cruise passengers in particular as they have big spending potential.

A focus on cruises would be the most efficient way to increase the profitability and attractiveness of Cambodia’s tourism sector overall, she said.

The tourism market for Preah Sihanouk currently consists primarily of visitors from ASEAN due to the relative flexibility and short notice required to travel to Cambodia, Sivlin added.

But she noted that data from the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum – which Cambodia organised in the province in January – revealed that a significant number of tourists from further afield such as Europe also expressed interest in visiting the Kingdom.

Sivlin sought the expertise of tourism-adjacent institutions to learn more about the various means of attracting cruise tourists. “In the past, even though there were ships docked at our port, only a few tourists came ashore to visit Cambodia, and even so, they spent very little time visiting compared to [when they docked in] other countries,” she said.

Sivlin also proposed the introduction of a “visa-on-arrival” scheme specifically for cruise tourists.

Cambodia has been a full member of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches Club since 2011. Since then, the Kingdom’s 440km long coastline – covering the four provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Kampot and Kep – has been dubbed a “rising star” in the southwest region.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan, who also attended the meeting, said that tourist boat arrivals remain relatively rare in spite of the Cambodian coastline being recognised for its beauty and white sandy beaches.

He echoed Sivlin’s belief that Cambodia’s tourism sector would benefit from more international cruise ships docking, as “cruise tourists are generally older people with higher incomes and [who take] longer holidays”.

He told The Post on March 1: “In the past, the number of ship visitors to Cambodia was small. But one thing we need to know and remember is that ship passengers are the ones who spend a lot of money, so the more visitors [arrive] by boat, the more it will benefit the national economy.”

Preah Sihanouk provincial Chamber of Commerce president Vann Sokheng said that his team had previously collaborated with neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos to arrange multi-stop tourism packages, but that these had been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the current situation eases, he says, his team will push for the multinational arrangements, as well as local tourism, to resume. “We cannot wait for [tourists] to visit our country, but we have to prepare a ‘ready’ package before we invite them, to best capitalise on their spending power,” he said.

Tourism ministry undersecretary of state Sok Sangvar agreed, adding that he recognised it would be necessary for the state and the private sector to cooperate on launching new schemes and projects in order for tourism to function efficiently.

Sangvar highlighted Cambodia’s success in Covid-19 crisis management, saying that effective measures led to the Kingdom being the first country in Southeast Asia to have reopened to visitors without quarantine requirements.

He added that having been encouraged by responses to the ASEAN Tourism Forum, Southeast Asian and European markets are the first destinations being targetted by the ministry for Preah Sihanouk-based tourism during the initial phase of industry restoration. He reminded private sector leaders to also consider promoting and coordinating appealing tour packages to entice more cruise tourists.

In 2021, international tourists reached 196,495, marking an 84.96 per cent drop from 1,306,143 a year earlier, of which air, land and inland waterway arrivals stood at 99,829 (down 86.8 per cent), 96,478 (down 80 per cent) and 188 (down 99.6 per cent), tourism ministry data show.


  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • PM to open new Siem Reap int’l airport December 1

    Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders would jointly participate in the official opening of the new Chinese-invested Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on December 1. The airport symbolises a new page in the history of Cambodian aviation, which will be able to welcome long-distance flights to

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former

  • Minimum wage set at $204, after Sep 28 vote

    The minimum wage for factory workers in the garment, footwear and travel goods industries for 2024 has been decided at $204 per month, with the government contributing $2. Following several negotiation sessions, the tripartite talks reached an agreement during a September 28 vote, with 46 of 51 votes supporting the $202 figure.