Chinese tourists arrive at the Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo by Phearum/Xinhua)
Cambodia is expected to attract 4 million international tourists in 2023 after China optimized its anti-COVID-19 strategy and resumed its outbound group tours earlier this year, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said.
PHNOM PENH, April 5 (Xinhua) -- China's optimization of its anti-COVID-19 strategy and resumption of its outbound group tours earlier this year will give a big boost to Cambodia's tourism and economy, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday.
Cambodia's economy is forecast to grow 5.5 percent in 2023 and 6 percent in 2024 on a more robust tourism recovery and higher growth in the service sector, the lender said in its outlook report.
The Southeast Asian country's economy traditionally relies on tourism, garment, footwear and travel goods exports, construction and real estate, and agriculture.
Cambodian Ministry of Tourism's Secretary of State Top Sopheak (C) presents flowers to a Chinese pilot at the Siem Reap International Airport in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, on March 3, 2023, after the arrival of China Eastern Airlines flight MU2091 carrying some 132 Chinese tourists. (Cambodian Ministry of Tourism/Handout via Xinhua)
ADB country director for Cambodia Jyotsana Varma said despite weaker global demand, Cambodia's economy has continued to perform well led by ongoing tourism recovery.
"Cambodia's economic outlook is positive with robust growth, shrinking current account deficit and moderate inflation in 2023," she said.
The outlook report said service growth will continue to be driven by ongoing tourism recovery, saying that growth in services is forecast to accelerate to 7.3 percent in 2023 before easing to 6.8 percent in 2024.
It will be led by even stronger tourism growth expected following the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in China, Cambodia's largest tourist market, the report said.
This aerial photo taken on Oct. 28, 2022 shows the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville (PPSHV) Expressway in Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia. Connecting the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to the international deep-sea port province of Preah Sihanouk, the first Chinese-invested PPSHV Expressway has been giving a significant boost to the country's economic growth and tourism development. (PPSHV Expressway/Handout via Xinhua)
Other expected boosts to services this year are Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in May and the 12th ASEAN Para Games in June as well as the national election in July, it added.
Inflationary pressure is anticipated to moderate at an average rate of 3 percent in 2023 and 4 percent in 2024, the report said, adding that Cambodia's economic outlook also hinges on the country's continuing efforts to scale up green investment to unlock long-term growth potential.
Growth in exports of garments, footwear and travel goods is projected to decelerate due to weak external demand in the United States and Europe, the main export destinations, the report said.
The industrial sector, however, continues to benefit from policy reforms including the investment law 2021 which created a one-stop service for investors, and new trade agreements, it added.
Industrial output is expected to grow 5.8 percent in 2023 before accelerating to 7.8 percent in 2024, the report said, adding that growth in construction is expected to remain slow, as agriculture is forecast to grow 1.1 percent this year and 1.2 percent in 2024, boosted by crop production for exports.
Risks to the outlook include weaker growth in the United States and Europe, high level of private debt, less-than-expected growth of tourist arrivals, high energy prices, and extreme weather events affecting agriculture productivity, Varma said.
Cambodia's Tourism Minister Thong Khon (C) presents a Chinese boy with a Cambodian traditional scarf at the Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 7, 2023, in welcoming Chinese flag carrier Air China's inaugural post-COVID 19 flight to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and the arrival of some 125 Chinese tourists. (Photo by Phearum/Xinhua)
Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the kingdom is expected to attract 4 million international tourists in 2023 after China optimized its anti-COVID-19 strategy and resumed its outbound group tours earlier this year.
"This year, we hope to attract between 800,000 and 1 million Chinese tourists," he told Xinhua, noting that the kingdom received only 106,875 Chinese tourists in 2022.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the return of Chinese tourists had given "high hopes" for the kingdom's tourism and economic growth in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
"I believe that the famed Angkor archeological park in Siem Reap and coastal areas in Sihanoukville will remain the most attractive destinations for Chinese tourists," she told Xinhua. ■