Cambodia expects 1 mln foreign tourists in 2022

Tourist walk in front of famed Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap. Photo by Thmey Thmey

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodia is expected to attract one million international tourists in 2022, much higher than 200,000 in 2021, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said on Thursday.

The Southeast Asian nation received 510,000 foreign visitors in the first half of this year, up 394 percent compared to the same period last year, he said, adding that Vietnam and Thailand were the largest sources of tourists to the kingdom.

"Based on this figure, we hope to attract around one million foreign tourists in 2022 and up to two million in 2023," Khon said during the closing ceremony of the ministry's three-day meeting.

The minister said tourism, one of four pillars supporting the country's economy, is forecast to reach its pre-COVID-19 level in 2026 or 2027.

In the pre-pandemic era, the kingdom welcomed 6.6 million international tourists in 2019, generating 4.92 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, according to the Tourism Ministry.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Prime Minister  Hun Sen said Cambodia was among the first countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that had reopened borders and eased travel restrictions for international travelers.

"We have reopened the country and we don't think we will close it again because our vaccination rate is high and herd immunity is well achieved," he said. "We will continue to fight COVID-19 with confidence."

Currently, there are 24 airlines operating in Cambodia, with 2,214 flights recorded in the first half of this year, up 141 percent year-on-year.

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