September 1, 2011

Tourism stronger than predicted


THE Kingdom’s tourism industry this year will perform much better than the government expects thanks in part to Cambodia’s growing popularity as a vacation destination, investment firm Cambodia Capital has said.

Total tourist arrivals to Cambodia for 2011 will reach 2.85 million, while total revenues from tourism will reach US$1.98 billion, according to the firm’s latest research report.

Those numbers represent increases of 17 per cent and four per cent over the Ministry of Tourism’s estimated 2.8 million total tourist arrivals and $1.91 billion in total revenues for this year, respectively.

Cambodia Capital, describing its projections as conservative, said the tourist arrival growth of 13.5 per cent between January and July would hold for the rest of the year.

Arrivals growth for 2012 and 2013 would then dip to 11.4 per cent each year, resulting in a total of 3.17 million and 3.53 mill-ion visitors, respectively.

“We believe that we are unlikely to see a downturn in arrivals growth to as low as 2008, at 5.5 per cent year-on-year, or 2009, at 1.7 per cent,” Cambodia Capital said.

“However, we also do not see the global macro-environment supporting a strong surge in arrivals over the next two years.”

Although company officials declined to comment further, the report notes that the arrival growth rate could contract to low double digits as the country’s tourism market matures.

At the same time, there is still “plenty of organic growth in Cambodia as a destination” to offset that lower growth rate, the report says.

Cambodia Capital also pointed to what it called the “Vietnam effect”, a result of the significant number of Vietnamese crossing into the Kingdom for shorter-duration trips.

Vietnam accounted for 28.6 per cent of all arrivals during July, the firm said.

As a result, Cambodia Capital said the amount of spending per arrival per day would decline, as Vietnam has a lower gross domestic product per capita than other sources of tourism to Cambodia.

Continued growth in overall arrivals should help to counterbalance this effect, however.

“On the whole, we expect that the tourist arrival growth will offset any decline in arrivals days, or spending per arrival, by a wide margin, resulting in rising overall tourist receipts.”

Cambodia Capital predicted tourist receipts would grow 8.9 per cent in both 2012 and 2013 to $2.16 billion and $2.35 bill-ion, respectively.

Mohan Gunti, an adviser to the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents and a member of the government’s tourism working group, said the numbers from both Cambodia Capital and the ministry showed that “growth seems to be very positive so far” this year.

The outlook for the rest of 2001 was “quite optimistic”, he said.

Gunti also downplayed concerns that economic troubles in the US and the European Union would weigh on Cambodia.

He said the movement of travellers within the region should help to carry the Kingdom’s tourism industry, despite problems in the West.

“I don’t really see any effect from the crisis or the slowdown. So far, things are moving pretty well.”

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