Tourism Operators Welcome Over 3.28 Million People for New Year

PHNOM PENH – Tourism destinations across the country welcomed more than 3.28 million visitors during New Year’s Eve celebrations, from Dec. 30, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2024. 

The vast majority came from local tourism, with Cambodian nationals accounting for 3,227,146 visitors and foreigners 58,722, according to Tourism Ministry’s spokesperson Top Sopheak on Jan. 3. 

The five most-visited provinces were Phnom Penh with (610,356 visitors including 25,172 foreigners), Preah Sihanouk (472,697 visitors including 8,597 foreigners), Kampot (427,495 visitors of which 4,933 were foreigners), Siem Reap (377,219 visitors including 12,219 foreigners), and Battambang (346,333 visitors, with 810 foreigners).

These five locations hosted around 68 percent of the total visitors nationwide during the New Year celebrations.

Days before the countdown, provinces had prepared events, New Year-themed decorations, food fairs, exhibitions, concerts, art performances, and fireworks, getting ready to welcome visitors. 

While the final tourism statistics for 2023 are still pending, Chhay Sivlin, the president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), believes that the number of visitors increased last year. She’s hopeful numbers will also go up in 2024.

According to the November Tourism Statistics Report, the latest available from the Tourism Ministry, a total of 4.92 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia in the first 11 months of the year. While it is significantly better than 2022, such data also indicates the tourism industry is catching up with its pre-pandemic standards. In 2019, a total of 5.9 million international tourists visited Cambodia over the same 11-month period.

Internal tourism has also been on the rise in 2023, with over 17 million Khmer tourists registered by the ministry as of November – a 46 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Despite this positive trend, Sivlin encourages tourism operators to launch more creative activities that will not only satisfy tourists but also encourage them to stay longer in the country. 

“[The current tourism offer] was enough to host the number of tourists [who visited Cambodia] this year, but it would have been [short] if there had been a greater number [of tourists]. In 2024, there will be more international and national tourists seeking tourism services, so tourism operators should create more creative packages or services to attract and maintain the tourism flow,” she told Cambodianess on Jan. 2. 

As for the hospitality, CATA’s president considers it “excellent” given the warmth and friendship of the Cambodian people, whom she encourages to continue.

“There are the tourists for all of us, not only for business owners whose service is being used,” she said to emphasize the positive impact of the tourism industry on many sectors of the Cambodian economy.

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