Charting the Growth of Cambodia’s Tourism

Despite a large increase in foreign tourists and tourism-generated revenue, Cambodia’s poverty-stricken population is seeing very few of the profits.

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Tourism in Cambodia has been greatly increasing in recent years. According to Tong Khon, the country's minister of tourism, the number of foreign tourists visiting Cambodia in the first nine months of 2010 was 1.8 million, increasing nearly 15 percent compared to the previous year. In the first nine months of the year, more than 400,000 travelers arrived via flights to Phnom Penh International Airport and nearly 500,000 to Siem Reap Airport—increases of 11 percent and 17 percent from 2009, respectively.

The Angkor Wat complex, the freshwater dolphins of the Mekong River, and the mangrove forests of Koh Kong are among the most visited tourist attractions in Cambodia. In a recent report by the Cambodian Department of Tourism, income from tourism now accounts for 10 to 12 percent of Cambodia's nearly U.S. $11 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Nevertheless, workers in the tourism industry say that it is harder for them to make money than in previous years because they face increased competition. Additionally, they say, most tourists prefer to travel with tour groups from their countries of origin and choose not to spend their money on locally-provided services.

Produced by Minh-Ha Le

Related story:
Little Profit Despite Tourism Growth


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