Cellcard Sponsor Banner
Home Industries Hospitality & Tourism

Hospitality & Tourism

Fancy a holiday in Cambodia for business or pleasure? Or maybe you are looking to join the burgeoning tourism industry?

This section covers all your bases. B2B Cambodia has pulled together a summary of tourism industry tips in Cambodia and the various facilities available to individual and corporate users, plus information relating to traveling into and around the country.

If you can’t find you’re answer here, just ask us at B2B and we’ll point you in the right direction.

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen announced recently that Cambodia attracted 4.5 million tourists over the course of 2014, an increase of 5.9% over the previous year. Speaking at the opening of the World Conference on Tourism and Culture, Mr. Hun Sen was optimistic for the future of Cambodia’s tourism industry: “The projection for 2020 is 7.5 million inbound tourists that generate $5 billion in terms of revenues and 80,000 jobs. In addition, Cambodia’s tourism campaign of “Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” and the competition movement of “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service” have greatly helped promote Cambodia’s prestige in the region and in the world.” Mr. Hun Sen predicts that increased tourism will play a strong role in driving the Cambodian economy’s 7% growth this year. Mr. Hun Sen explained, “Truly, the tourism sector is not only a socio-economic sector that helps sustain economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty, but is also considered an important sector that supports regional integration.”
  • Siem Reap was named number 2 destination in the world, after Marrakesh, Morocco, in the 2015 TripAdvisor “Travelers’ Choice” awards for the the world best destinations.
  • Tourism in Cambodia is seasonal with the “high season” running from November to March.
  • July and August are popular with Western tourists because of the school summer holidays and June and September are the quietest months.
  • If you are setting up a tourist-reliant business make sure you factor in the low season and the lack of income impact into your business plan.
  • The low season is being marketed by some vendors as “green season” and doesn’t appear to scare away regional Asian travelers as much as some might first suspect.
  • Cambodia benefits from being part of the Indochina/Southeast Asia circuit—an enticing set of affordable destinations for many contemporary explorers.
  • Yet, due to this, short stays are the norm in Cambodian tourism, as visitors tend to cram as many neighbouring countries as possible into a few weeks of yearly vacation time.
  • Furthermore, reliance on regional tourism infrastructure has a direct impact on Cambodian tourism as when the surrounding region is unsettled, such as during the Thai coup or Vietnamese anti-Chinese riots in 2014, Cambodian tourism is adversely affected, regardless of whether or not regional events have any actual ramifications on the country.
  • One contributor to this issue is the current lack of direct long-haul flights coming into Cambodia from worldwide destinations.
  • Cambodia relies on transfers from nearby regional hubs, especially Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.
  • As direct long-haul flights increase, this problem will lessen.
  • Tourism continues to increase it is spreading further afield than the traditional tourist hotspots of Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and the coast.
  • The private sector — through mechanisms like the Cambodia Tourism Federation — is finding platforms to better advertise some of the diversity of Cambodia as a destination.
  • Beyond this, the private sector is currently coordinating with the Ministry of Tourism in order to jointly organise a calendar of yearly events (such as festivals, fairs and exhibitions) that will help to further promote Cambodia with both tourists and business people alike.
  • Visitors to Kampot, Kep and Battambang are also seeing a rise, as are cruise trip services, aqua expeditions and golf tourism.
  • Water tourism along the Mekong is also steadily growing.
  • Cambodia’s hospitality and tourism industry has already moved from focusing on backpackers and expanded their target market on other visitors. There has been a significant increase in middle income and upper income people, especially families, to visit Cambodia.
  • Visitors from America, the UK, Europe and Australia continue to steadily flow into Cambodia. However, over recent years there has been a boom in Asian tourists.
  • Vietnam remains number one, although they are more frugal than other markets.
  • The strongest tourist arrivals to Cambodia are the Chinese, the Vietnamese, and the South Koreans, and more and more Japanese are coming too.
  • The recent boom in Asian mass tourism is misleading in terms of the Cambodian tourism industry’s development though – as it doesn’t encourage trickle down wealth to the local market, as generally expected from responsible tourism growth.
  • Inter-Asian tourism agencies often create their own tourism infrastructure inside Cambodia – limiting the flow on of wealth to the local market.
  • Chinese tour groups, for instance, generally take Chinese owned and operated chartered tours, stay at Chinese owned or endorsed hotels, eat at Chinese restaurants, and gamble at Chinese endorsed casinos.
  • This means the local economy doesn’t benefit to the extent it does with a more independent traveller.
  • With the integration of ASEAN on the cards, it is predicted the Cambodia will increasingly become used as a business destination.
  • Cheaper conference facilities, such as those on Diamond Island, and an increasing number of direct flights from business hubs, including Singapore and Hong Kong, add to this trend.
  • People will be able to move freely around the region, meaning there is open immigration for workers.
  • This is likely to increase competition for labour more so than already exists, and drive up costs of hiring and retaining tourism professionals within Cambodia.
  • Tourism has rapidly changed in Cambodia with the influx of visitors contributing greatly to the changing face of the country.
  • The number of tourism industry competitors is increasing at a rapid rate, but this may be a good thing.
  • It means businesses must set their own benchmarks; improve design, create events, and increase visibility, continually.
  • Investing in branding and finding a unique selling point that sets you apart from the rest are two elements that will help you to succeed in hospitality in Cambodia. It is important to remain adaptable, and open to changing trends.
  • Phnom Penh’s boutique hotel boom is a great example of popular and recent diversification in the midrange hospitality market.
  • Boutique hotels priced between $50 and $120 a night are widely available in Phnom Penh (and Siem Reap), and typically offer a more personal service than the major brands.
  • Demand has changed, and continues to change, with tourists expecting a wider range of experiences and standards of service.
  • As the industry continues to expand, the supply of experienced, talented staff struggles to keep pace with growing demand.
  • This remains true despite the existence of several high-end and mid-range training schools.
  • Additionally, the hospitality industry faces competition from growing sectors such as banking, sales and telecommunications where service-oriented staff are in high demand, and where these companies are able to afford higher salaries as incentives to staff.
  • Staff poaching in the tourism and hospitality industry is rife in Cambodia, as it is elsewhere in the region. This will only increase with the conglomeration of ASEAN labour markets.
  • For business owners, dealing with this problem is not just about remuneration, it’s also about selection, training and development; offering staff incentives and a clear career path and promotions.
  • In the hospitality industry you need to be very proactive in retaining and developing talent.
  • The rapid ascent of Cambodia’s inbound tourism market has coincided with a staggering increase in the rate of internet use.
  • The frequent use and reliance on Facebook and other social networking sites means that every time a happy holiday maker uploads their holiday photos on Facebook and tags a tourism venue or service, a free advertisement is spread across social media channels.
  • This can be a double-edged sword, with the potential for unmoderated criticism to be widely spread also.
  • The key to social media therefore is attention, updating often and monitoring constantly.
  • Naturally, this has also facilitated a rapid rise in people using user review sites such as TripAdvisor.
  • For some, it is a means of leveling the marketing platform between the huge budgets and the miniscule.
  • As long as services are well rated, even the smallest bed and breakfast can compete in free advertising online.
  • Click-through booking websites also put power into the consumer’s hands.
  • The largest of these sites, agoda.com and booking.com, now link to thousands of hotels in Cambodia.
  • While international and larger hotels will headline their own websites with booking options, smaller operations are forced to rely on these online travel agents. These sites charge between 10 and 20 percent commission—add to that a 2.5 percent credit card charge and 10 percent VAT and it soon adds up.
  • Software solutions catering to the hospitality industry can also be a big help to those setting up.
  • Information systems allow data from different elements of the company, such as front-end, back office and restaurant to be compiled and analysed.
  • Other features include inventory control, reservations, guest comments, and room vacancy.

Tourism Top Tips

Here we call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about being a success in Cambodia’s fiercely competitive hospitality and tourism sector.

  • Gone are the days when all it took was hiring a small shop house, putting a few rattan chairs outside and a noticeboard with a name outside to make a few bucks.
  • Cambodia has evolved and the capital and other urban areas now offer a wealth of choice for that spans the diverse pockets of tourists that today visit the country.
  • However, many foreign investors still fail to acknowledge the need to carry out strategic planning to survive in this over-saturated market.
  • So many go bankrupt before they open because people underestimate what you have to do here.
  • Anyone wanting to start a bar, restaurant or hotel needs to be a lot more professional than they used to need to be.
  • Demand has changed and tourists expect more these days.
  • Competition is fierce and now you have to be innovative and do something different to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
  • Investing in branding and finding a unique selling point that sets you apart from the rest are two elements that will help in hospitality.
  • There’s no easy money, including in Cambodia. If you have a good idea, are prepared to work like crazy and have enough cash to invest in the business – only then can you succeed.
  • While succeeding in Phnom Penh is easier than say Europe, people still misjudge it and think it’s even easier here than it is.
  • Skilled hospitality workers are seriously lacking despite several high-end training schools so recruiting and retaining good staff is vital.
  • Easy ways to achieve these are to pay a fair salary, take time hiring the correct person and then training them.
  • Continued training is essential and incentives also offer benefits to employees, such as health insurance and social activities.
  • Cambodia’s reliance on the region has a direct impact on tourism.
  • Being part of a larger trip to Indochina means when the surrounding region is unsettled, such as the Thai coup, it also affects Cambodia.
  • This is regardless of whether or not it has any ramifications on the country.
  • The reason is mainly because of the lack of direct long-haul flights coming into Cambodia and there are few alternative ways to enter without crossing other countries.
  • Don’t underestimate the actual cost involved to set up a venture in Cambodia and the time that it will take to start making a respectable profit.

Accommodation and facilities available in Cambodia

No matter how you like to travel, Cambodia will always have a place for you to lay your head; from $2 backpackers beds, to $2000 a night 5 star luxury resorts.

Increasingly too, the Kingdom is offering facilities for corporate events and business travelers.

  • Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have the largest variety of hotels and guesthouses and are each home to a range of internationally branded hotels such as Raffles, Le Méridien, Sofitel and InterContinental.
  • Sofitel Luxury Hotels in Cambodia has been selected in the much anticipated Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards. More than 70,000 voters worldwide elect their favorite hotels based on location, rooms, design, service and gastronomy. Thousands of reader’s voted for the Sofitel Hotels in Cambodia with Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra scoring 88.3/100 to rank 4th best hotel in Southeast Asia and 31st best hotel in Asia.
  • In addition to these, the Sokha Hotel on Chroy Changva peninsula has now opened for business. It has over 700 rooms and a 3000 person capacity meeting hall. In future, the hotel is considering applying for a casino license, and plans to offer a connecting ferry service across the river to the mainland, berthing at the Cambodiana Hotel.
  • The Shangri-La Hotel will also open in Phnom Penh in 2019, a further addition to the capital’s luxury hotel offerings.
  • Many hotels, particularly in Phnom Penh, target the business market and provide additional services such as business lounges, meeting facilities and secretarial assistance.
  • Cheap international calls are available with rates as low as 3 cents a minute to many destinations.
  • Internet access is improving continuously and the majority of hotels, as well as restaurants and cafés, offer free wireless services.
  • The breadth and quality of services vary considerably as some areas of Cambodia, such as Siem Reap and coastal areas, have developed more quickly than others.
  • Prices range depending on location and the range of services on offer, and generally vary during the year with bargains to be had in the quieter months when occupancy rates drop dramatically.
  • In many cases, good rates can be secured via online booking sites such as Agoda, although booking directly through a hotel is often the cheapest option.
  • Boutique hotels priced between US$30 and US$120 a night are widely available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and typically offer a more personal service than the major brands.
  • Accommodation in Cambodia is cheap in comparison to many of its neighbours, especially Hong Kong and Singapore where a 20 square metre room in a basic business hotel can go for upwards of $200 a night.
  • By comparison, a decent guesthouse in Cambodia can cost between $15 and $20 a night.
  • Sihanoukville has two upscale hotels (the Independence and Sokha Beach Resort), as well as a wide range of low to mid-range options. Elsewhere in the country, hotel facilities are generally fairly basic though there are a few higher-end resorts in areas such as Kompong Thom, Koh Kong, Ratanakkiri, Kep and even on top of Bokor Mountain in Kampot Province.
  • The average quality of service across the hospitality industry is far higher than we have ever seen in Cambodia to date.
  • Yet, there is still room for more hotels and guest houses, especially in more niche markets and destinations.
  • In the last 12 months on TripAdvisor, an astounding 120 restaurants have opened, bringing it to a total of 945 restaurants in Phnom Penh alone. So all it does is reduce the captive dining market and spreads it very thin, especially in an industry that works on very little profit with ever increasing running costs.
  • The rapid growth of the Cambodian tourism market in recent years has not failed to catch the attention of international companies seeking a destination for MICE (Meetings, Incentive trips, Conferences and Events).
  • Many tour operators in Cambodia now arrange MICE trips and events, usually receiving clients through travel companies or organisers based in clients’ home countries.
  • Seminars, conventions, exhibitions, incentive trips and reward vacations, all help boost Cambodia as a place where business people come for more than just the scenery.
  • Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island Convention Center and Angkor CoEX in Siem Reap each have the capacity for Conventions and Exhibitions.
  • International chains such as Raffles and Sofitel are present in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and offer exclusive MICE inclusive packages.
  • The third MICE-ready locale in Cambodia is Sihanoukville, with two large international-standard hotels.
  • Tour companies and guides, of which there are dozens, range considerably in price, quality, languages and services offered.
  • Many upscale overseas tour operators now offer itineraries in Cambodia, teaming up with local ground operators to provide high quality tours for discerning customers.
  • Higher end tours provide unique room and board as well as adventures and exotic methods of transportation such as riding an elephant or taking an ATV through the jungle.
  • Off-road motorcycle and mountain bike trips, ranging from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, are offered by several operators, while “eco” and adventure tourism are becoming an increasingly popular specialty.
  • The majority continue to focus primarily on the temples of Angkor, in some cases adding a few days in Phnom Penh or the beach.
  • Ongoing improvements to road networks, especially in the provinces of Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri, have significantly reduced travel times and these once remote areas are now finding their way onto several tour operators’ maps.
  • The most common means of transport (especially for local people) is the moto or motodop, known in English as moped.
  • Other forms of transport include tuk tuks, which are carriages pulled by a moto, and cyclos which are three wheeled bicycles with a passenger seat at the front.
  • Cyclos are rarely seen outside Phnom Penh and, with their numbers in decline, are now used mainly by tourists and the elderly.
  • Prices vary for motos and tuk tuks depending on the number of passengers, distance travelled, destination and time of day, with short moto trips costing from around 3000 Riel (US$0.75).
  • Taxis are becoming more common in urban centres and can be cheaper than taking a tuk tuk or moto.
  • A handful of metered taxi firms now operate in Phnom Penh, with prices from as little as a dollar for a short trip.
  • Taxis are also frequently used for cross-country travel and can be quite affordable especially if you are travelling in a group.
  • Buses and mini-buses are a common means of transport between cities. Larger coaches travel between the major urban centres while more remote locations are generally serviced by smaller minibuses. Minibuses can be found at Phnom Penh’s larger markets.
  • The rail system is being rehabilitated, with a few sections of track in operation but used solely to haul freight.
  • Passenger boats operate between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but are fairly expensive in comparison to the bus.
  • Ferries are used for river crossings.

Airport Essentials

Cambodia currently has three operational airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which cater to international flights. Here’s all you need to know to use them smoothly.

  • In a bid to boost tourism and cater for the ever-increasing number of visitors to the country, in January 2014 work started on a $100-million dollar project to expand passenger terminals at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports. The development will see an extension of parking lots and terminals, including more check-in and immigration counters and new baggage handling systems.
  • The current construction is the first phase of an expansion program to upgrade facilities and address the rising number of visitors. Both airport capacities will be doubled to five million until 2015.
  • When completed, it is estimated Siem Reap and Phnom Penh will be able to welcome up to 10 million passengers to Cambodia a year. This will equate to more passengers and more routes being introduced.
  • However, capacity is not expected to increase much as the runways are not being extended.
  • Siem Reap is the larger of the two international airports and processes the majority of tourist traffic. Both airports have been upgraded over the past couple of years and each offers facilities and amenities in line with international service standards.
  • Neither airport currently accepts direct long-haul international flights and most airlines use Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei or Ho Chi Minh City as regional hubs.
  • While direct flights between Phnom Penh and Europe or the USA would do a lot to boost visitors to the country, they will require significant airport infrastructure improvements – especially to the runways that currently cannot handle the larger aircrafts.
  • Airline offices are commonly found in downtown Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, or at the airports themselves. The actual services available at each office will vary – keep in mind too that customer service lines are not always open in Cambodia, staff may not always speak English and consequently calls may need to be made to Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand.
  • A local travel agent will usually be able to help if the airline is unresponsive.
  • During the last two years, Cambodia has become directly connected to more destinations across the globe as airlines unveil a series of new routes to China and the rest of the region. In November 2012, the country lost out when Air France withdrew from the country, but it didn’t take long for Qatar Airways to take its place, launching direct flights with Doha in February 2013.
  • Cambodia Angkor Air, the national flag carrier, is one airline that has experienced huge growth year-on-year, seeing a 27% increase in passengers in the first half of 2013 and predicting to take five million by 2015 and seven million by 2020.
  • Tourism and hospitality is regulated by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Economics and Finance.
  • There are two industry associations operating in Cambodia: the Cambodia Restaurant Association and the Cambodia Hotel Association. They represent the industry to the government.
  • Japan’s and Cambodia’s governments are in talks to sign an agreement which will allow Japanese airlines to service all 10 ASEAN states, when the region integrates at the end of 2015.
  • Visitors to Cambodia can get a visa on arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport, simply by filling in a form, providing two passport photos and paying the requisite fee.
  • A basic tourist visa costs US$30 and is valid for a month, and can be extended for one more month. As of October 2014, you can now apply online for a tourist evisa: www.evisa.gov.kh
  • The Cambodian Foreign ministry warns visitors of the many fraudulent visa websites as: cambodiaevisa.com, welovecambodia.com, evisacambodia.com, cambodiaonarrival.com, eVisa-Cambodia.com etc.
  • Business visas, which are now referred to as an ordinary visa (E class), cost US$35 for a month and can be extended indefinitely by up to one year at a time without any requirement to leave the country.
  • Having a job or a business is not required to obtain a business visa, however should one wish to change from a tourist visa to a business visa they must first leave and then re-enter the country.
  • Most flights arriving into, or departing from, Cambodia operate during the working day, though there are also several late evening departures to Korea and China.
  • There are currently about 20 airlines operating in the country including regional operators such as AirAsia, Bangkok Airways and Silk Air, and international airlines such as Thai Airways International and Qatar Airways.
  • Flight schedules can be found on airline websites and Cambodia Airport’s website.
  • Upon arrival in Cambodia, travelers must fill in a customs declaration form and submit it to the customs official.
  • In cases where self selection routes are operated, passengers have the option of making their customs declaration in either the Red Channel or the Green.
  • Outbound passengers should note that the export of antiquities requires a permit from Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts as well as an export permit from the General Department of Customs and Excise.
  • Do a feasibility study: Dozens of restaurants close every year in the capital due to a lack of long term planning.
  • Pick concept and target market carefully: Look at your prospective market and target your business very specifically.
  • Choose location carefully: In hospitality and tourism, location is key. Based on your concept and target market, choose the location that’s right for you.
  • Plan projected budget meticulously: Make sure registration and legal fees are factored in. Add an extra 15% of leeway onto your projected amount of capital and time.
  • Prepare for growth: The hospitality and tourism market is poised for enormous growth in the near future. If you don’t prepare for growth, you risk your competitors overtaking you.
  • Account for seasonality: From March to June you can expect a significant drop in the number of visitors to the country. Account for this in your business plan.
  • Make full use of social media: Social media outlets are a great way to promote your business, and can be key to your success.
  • The Ministry of Tourism launched a new online system in April 2015 for the registration of tourism related businesses and tour guides.
  • The intention of the new process is to increase the efficiencies of the licence inspection process, and increase government revenues through compliance.
  • The new system is slated to fully replace the traditional registration process by 2016.
  • To aid tax collection and accountability, each business will now be issued an ID and Quick Response Code.
  • Currently, the Government predicts around 30 per cent of tourism vendors are unlicenced.
  • The old system requires businesses to submit a list of documents at the ministry’s provincial tourism departments, then, the documents are sent to the ministry in Phnom Penh for approval. It is much slower and difficult than the new model.
  • Businesses and tour guides can now visit www.cambodiatourismindustry.org to submit their online applications.
  • Each new licence will be issued three days after submission. The system will notify businesses a month before their licence is up for yearly renewal.
21,268FansLike
235FollowersFollow

SIGN UP FOR WEEKLY UPDATES