Tourism is one of the sectors supporting the economy in this Southeast Asian nation. Last year, Cambodia received some 3.5 million foreigners, up 24% year-on-year earning more than 2 billion U.S. dollars or 12% of the GDP of the Kingdom.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said at a tourism forum on June 19 that the country expected to receive around 4 million foreign tourists this year.
He said about 75% of the tourists were from the Asia Pacific region, 16% from European countries and the rest from all over the world.
Cambodia is well-known for its 12th century Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, a world heritage site, which is situated about 315 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh, the capital.
One of the key catalysts for Cambodia joining the other Asian giants in luxury tourism is the strident improvement to their infrastructure.
Roads are much better now in many provinces and going to neighboring Vietnam, Thailand or Laos.
Also, arrivals from the Middle East will grow, supported by Qatar Airways’ new daily flight connection from Doha to Phnom Penh via Ho Chi Minh City.
Dragonair is planning to launch a new seasonal service to Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat on 29 October 2013, three times a week direct from Hong Kong.
Luxe Cambodia is on the rise, with new luxury hotels and resorts opening regularly, especially from the big brands in luxury hospitality.
Song Saa Private Island in Sihanoukville, and Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra have just been opened recently, so high-end travelers have choices for their comfort and accommodation.
An elegant hide-away, Park Hyatt Siem Reap now opens with 108 stylish guestrooms and suites.
In Cambodia’s Coast, Cambodia Beach (cambodiabeach.com) in Sihanoukville has been opened and others are set to open next year.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge (ecolodges.asia) adopts the South African style for its 12 luxurious individual tents. The remote resort can also be reached from Thailand’s Khlong Yai and Koh Chang.
Sokha Phnom Penh is expected to complete in 2014. The 14-hectare hotel project includes hotel rooms and suites, an international convention centre, a spa, high-end condominiums, entertainment centres, shopping centres, restaurants, a night market and a club house.
The new Akaryan Retreat at Koh Krabeay will be a destination wellness and spa retreat on the private island of Koh Krabey, Cambodia. This 6 star private island resort is a 20-minute boat transfer south of Sihanoukville and welcomes its very first guests in 2014.
Prime Minister Hung Sen predicted, in the recent Cambodia Outlook Conference, that the country’s economy is expected to grow 7% in 2013 thanks to stronger growth in garment exports, agriculture, real estate, construction and tourism.
Further, the Ministry of Tourism and the French TV channel TF1 have signed a deal on a “2013 action plan” that will promote Cambodia’s beach tourism. The plan aims to promote Cambodian beaches and islands not only in the French and European markets but around the world.
The beauty of Cambodia is that the country continues to evolve without diluting its nature and cultural heritage, making it a great destination for ecological and cultural tourism.
Travel to Cambodia is spreading beyond popular Siem Reap and we see a huge increase in ecotourism and adventure travel in the more remote areas of the country.