Cambodian outbound tourism saw a 30 percent rise during this year’s three-day Water Festival, while long haul destination tour packages to Europe, Australia, US, and Dubai have also started to attract locals, said tour operators.
Sky King Travel and Tour CEO Sok Kunthea, told Khmer Times that for the three-day Water Festival and for end of year tour packages, her company saw bookings from 30 groups of local tourists or more than 250 pax.
She said ten groups booked long haul destinations like Europe, Australia, US, and Dubai while the rest will be flying to Singapore and Malaysia. Ms Sok Kunthea added that among the long haul destinations, Europe comes on top, followed by Australia, US and Dubai.
“The number of the Cambodian outbound tourists booking package tours through my company has increased to about 20 to 30 percent this year.
“This year, with the Water Festival, we saw very good package bookings. We have more than 30 groups and some among them have booked for travel dates that run until the end of the year.
“Some Cambodian tourists now prefers spending more money for long haul destinations like Europe, US, Australia and Dubai and some groups are booking for Singapore and Malaysia,” Ms Sok Kunthea said.
She said some Cambodian tourists could spend up to $4,000 for two-week tour packages to Europe, US and Australia, while they would spend about $500 to $600 for a tour package of a week to Singapore and Malaysia.
“Our economy and the living standard of the people is better, therefore, they are able to pay for long haul destinations, while, they are also aware of how to travel, how to apply for visa’s to those countries and so on,” Ms Sok Kunthea said.
Her company’s tour packages for this year are full and the company is already offering packages for the upcoming Chinese New Year and Khmer New Year next year.
Another local tour operator, Lav Heng, president of VLK Royal Tourism, said though bookings for long haul distances during this year’s Water Festival was scarce, local outbound tourists have booked tickets for short distance travel through his company. They snapped-up tour packages for neighboring countries, like Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
“We saw slow booking growth this year compared to last year. We have about 10 groups, each consisting of 25 to 30 people. My customers visit the nearest places, such as Vietnam and Thailand.
“We have less booking for packages to the European Union, Korea, or Japan. Some clients spend around $3,000 for tour packages to the EU while they are willing to spend around $1000 for 10 days to Korea and Japan. Our 10 groups will go to Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam with a budget of $500 to $600 for a week,” Mr Heng added.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, also noticed the demand for Cambodian outbound tourists during the Water Festival and for the New Year’s Eve is high especially on destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, China mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea and a few long haul destinations.
Kong Sophearak, director of the Statistics Department of the Ministry of Tourism, said outbound tourism to Europe, Australia, and US is still small, adding that the majority of the people are flocking to neighboring countries like Thailand and Singapore.
He said there is no breakdown of figures from the new destinations.
Mr Sophearak said the factor pushing Cambodian tourists to long haul destinations was good connectivity, better income for the locals and easier visa access to some long haul destinations.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, outbound tourism rose by 10.6 percent in the first nine months of the year.
From January to September, about 1.46 million Cambodian tourists flocked to foreign countries, compared to 1.32 million people in the same period last year.