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Chinese Tourism on the Decline at Cambodia’s Famous Angkor Wat

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“The number of foreign tourists at Angkor Wat continue to fall, but the Ministry of Tourism and the private sector are working together to curb the decline”

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The number Foreign visitors at the world-famous Angkor Wat in Siem Reap are reportedly on the decline. Latest figures from Angkor Enterprise report 12-13% declines.

Angkor Enterprise’s, reported Tuesday, that 1.6 million foreign tourists bought passes to the temple complex from January to September. A 12% decline over the same nine-month period in 2018, the Khmer Times reported on Wednesday.

Income from ticket sales reached just $74 million – a 13% decline.

Tourism Ministry spokesman Chuk Chumnor said that the fall was mainly the result of fewer Chinese visiting. Chumnor linked the decline to trade tensions between the United States and China.

“Generally speaking, the Chinese tourists that visit Angkor Wat are middle class, so the amount of money that they can afford to spend on travelling has been affected by the US-China trade war,” he said.

However the number of Chinese visitors in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, are on the rise. He said these Chinese visitors tend to be business people and investors. Sihanoukville has many Chinese owned casinos.

Chumnor pointed out that the number of South Korean visitors in Siem Reap is also declining. Adding that tourist arrivals from other nationalities have remained stable.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the decline in foreign tourists at Angkor Wat was the result of more Chinese nationals choosing to travel to Sihanoukville.

“When, in the past, the number of foreign visitors was rising, this was mostly the result of more Chinese visiting the province. Now that the number of tourists is declining, it is also because of the Chinese, as they now prefer to go to Sihanoukville,” she said.

Vietnam Wooing Chinese Visitors

Another factor at play, she said, is that neighboring countries, particularly Vietnam, are wooing Chinese and South Korean tourists with bigger investments in campaigns to promote their tourist destinations.

“To compete with Vietnam, we need to strengthen the quality of services in the tourism industry. We ask the government to get involved in improving services in the industry beginning with border crossings,” she said.

Luu Meng, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Tourism Working Group, urged the creation of more tourism products to attract tourists and called for higher standards in restaurants and traditional spas.

“Cambodia should strengthen the quality of services in restaurants and traditional spas. This will help attract foreign tourists, particularly from Western countries,” Meng said.

“The number of foreign tourists at Angkor Wat continue to fall. However the Ministry of Tourism and the private sector are working together to curb the decline,” Meng said.

According to Chumnor, the ministry has drafted a master plan to create new tourism products in Siem Reap province. He expects the number of foreign tourists visiting the Angkor Wat to increase in the last quarter of the year.

Last year, Angkor Wat sold entrance passes to 2.5 million foreign tourists, earning $116 million.